Head Sheriff of Los Angeles, Lee Baca has cultivated relationships with Muslims and has cemented close ties to CAIR and other Muslim political action groups. He claims that “diplomacy should be the primary mission of all Americans” and he assures Muslim groups that he understands that “when one religion is under threat, all religions are under threat.” Baca believes that American public officials “are in a dilemma with the educating of America about what the law is all about.” He urges Americans to “reach out to those who they fear and engage in a sensible dialogue.”
If Baca’s responsibilities were chiefly diplomatic, this would all be fine — except the part about the dilemma on what the law is all about. However, Baca’s job description is far from that of diplomat. During a recent Muslim-hosted summit on sharia and the Constitution, he did not once challenge applications of sharia in America that undermine free speech, freedom to leave a religion, the equal rights of women or those honor- and shame-based sharia tenets that promote violence. Nor did he define his department’s obligations to monitor radicalization cells; he did not even note the threat from radicalization. Rather, he implied that political candidates who would confront these issues “do not even know the American Constitution” to be able to correct their anti-Constitutional stances.
LAPD Counter-Terrorism Chief Michael Downing says that last year “a small number of people spread a hate campaign across America to create untruths about American Muslims.” He has declared that Muslims “recognize the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution through the principle of sharia” and that sharia “is not a threat to Americans.” He also defines the threat as “the other side of extremism which perpetuates hate against a small number of people.” (The remarks by Baca and Downing were made at a February 19, 2012 Garden Grove, CA, Islamic Center panel session on Sharia and the Constitution. There is no published videotape for linking purposes so I have transcribed a private recording.)
Downing’s ignorance of sharia and his attempt to shift focus from threatened Islamist violence and extremism to Americans who press for the exact debate that Downing shirked at this meeting was unconscionable. These remarks would not be appropriate from a diplomat or an ordinary police officer and they certainly are not fitting when spoken by the counter-terrorism chief of one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.
This mission-fuzziness in top law enforcement officers cannot inspire confidence in Californians who justlearned that a beautiful 22 year-old Sacramento resident was stabbed to death by her ex-fiance because, according to her parents, she would not go along with his terrorist plans. Apparently, he was part of a terror ring and wanted to use her to get into the country. She did not play along – and paid what was the ultimate price, if the family is right. But if we go with the certain proposition that some of these would-be terrorists are succeeding, and are among us, would you rather have Sheriff Baca, Chief Downing, or NYPD’s resolute Commissioner Ray Kelly in charge of monitoring Muslim activities?
NYPD’s Ray Kelly knows he is fighting a war on homeland turf. He plays by the rules called the Handschu Guidelines as designed under court guidance to protect political activity from police interference. He knows his enemy and understands that he will have to “initiate investigations in advance of unlawful conduct.” He has adopted the same rules of engagement that police “use to arrest drug dealers, human traffickers, and gang leaders.” While understanding that “the vast majority of Muslim student associations and their members are law-abiding,” he investigates because America “has seen too many cases in which such groups were exploited.” Kelly is confident in his mastery of the rules: “The NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public” and “to conduct online search activity and to access online sites and forums on the same terms… as members of the public.” He is “very clear about the nature of the threat we face” as being “persistent and dangerous.”
NYPD surveillance has thwarted several plots and led to the arrest of dangerous terrorists. Jesse Curtis Morton has confessed to encouraging others to kill the writers of South Park after they depicted the prophet Mohammed dressed in a bear suit. Morton also urged violence against Molly Norris, the cartoonist who organized Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. On Morton’s website, Revolution Muslim, readers could find the contents of Inspire magazine, a publication put out by al Qaeda, which included articles such as “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom.” This document provided instructions for Jose Pimentel, just indicted on charges of weapons possession and conspiracy, to make pipe bombs last year. Over the years, a total of ten people who’ve been arrested on terrorism charges have been in contact with Morton’s website.
Tragically, Top Cop Attorney General Holder has thrown in with the Sheriff Baca and Chief Downing types. Not only is he investigating Ray Kelly and the NYPD, but he has purged FBI training documents of materials that activist Muslim groups claimed were offensive. Again, the message to local agencies is that they will answer to the Department of Justice and the dictates of the Civil Rights Division agenda regardless of how scrupulously they follow the law. Even if Kelly and the NYPD are cleared of wrongdoing, the instruction is clear to all other jurisdictions who wish to avoid the risk of expensive and morale-defeating investigations.
While reactionary Islamists threaten that Muslims will withhold cooperation from law enforcement unless surveillance is done on their terms, sincere Muslims leaders like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Leadership Coalition stand with the NYPD against the “systematic and coordinated assault by highly-politicized Islamist organizations.” These anti-Islamist Muslims are understandably “often the primary targets of radical groups.” They offered to speak for “a silent majority of American Muslims” to say that they “thank God every day for the NYPD.”
Ordinary American citizens — who are not in a dilemma at all about what to expect from cops — would choose Ray Kelly’s brand of law enforcement any day. Sensible adults know that Defying Bullies 101 teaches that it is better to be respected than loved when dealing with threatening thugs. Tough love is needed to keep the American homeland safe for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Karen Lugo is the Founder of the Libertas-West Project and a co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.