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Capital New York: Peter King sees nothing wrong with Muslim surveillance, but lots wrong with the A.P. and the ‘Times’

Capital New York — by Azi Paybarah

The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the House said he will not look into the widespread surveillance of Muslims residents conducted by the New York Police Department, and denounced as "disgraceful" the Associated Press for detailing the tactic in a series of reports and New York Times for questioning it.

"Thank God Ray Kelly is not backing down from the politically correct media," Rep. Peter King, a Republican from Long Island, said at a press conference outside 1 Police Plaza. "They NYPD is not 'spying'. The NYPD is carrying out effective surveillance."

A television reporter asked King whether he read the Associated Press stories, which the reporter said included "very disturbing allegations."

King replied, "I would say the stories are disturbing, not the allegations."

Referring to the Associated Press, King said, "Virtually everything they've said has been one-sided … The Associated Press has not shown one instance of wrongdoing by the NYPD."

King was joined by the narrator of controversial documentary The Third Jihad, Dr. Juhdi Jasser, whom Kelly sat for an interview with before denouncing the movie as inflammatory and insensitive, and other Muslims supportive of the surveillance program.

King, who said his father helped train Kelly years ago as a police officer, said that other ethnic groups faced similar scrutiny when large numbers of their members were routinely committing crimes, mentioning Irish and Italians. I asked King if he was aware of any other ethnic group currently subject to surveillance by the NYPD's "demographic unit."

"I can assure you that if they get any information at all, that there's any threat coming from any particular community, obviously they will have surveillance in that community," he said. After the press conference, I asked Jasser if he lost any credibility after Kelly denounced his movie.

"He showed it, he participated in it, I wish he had defended it," Jasser said.

"It's unfortunate," he said. "He made a political decision and it does hurt our cause."

UPDATE: The director of media relations for the AP, Paul Colford, emailed to respond to King's remarks.

"The AP’s job is to provide information so that the public can judge its value and respond accordingly. That is how a democracy works. We are proud of our coverage," Colford wrote.