The NYPD's increased undercover surveillance of Muslims and ethnic minorities since 9/11 is like screening children for measles, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday. "If there is a community where the crime rate is very high, to not put more cops in that community is ridiculous," said the mayor in an interview. "If you want to look for cases of measles, you'll find a lot more of them among young people. That's not targeting young people to go see whether they have measles or not." Several Muslim civil rights groups and a New York congresswoman have urged the Department of Justice to investigate the NYPD for what they see as racial profiling. The NYPD Intelligence Division maintains a list of 28 countries that, along with "American Black Muslim," it considers to be "ancestries of interest," an AP investigation has found.
Bloomberg tried to walk a fine line between people's rights and safety, saying that police did not target ethnic groups or religion, but criminal threats. "As the world gets more dangerous, people are willing to have infringements on their personal freedoms," Bloomberg said. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent, also defended New York cops. "If you're going to catch an Irish mob bank robbery crew, you're normally going to show up in places where the Irish-connected folks are going to hang out," he said. "In the FBI, we used to say that's a clue."