Tagging Muslims in the US – troubling historical flashback

SHAFAQNA – Former New York City Mayor and current Donald Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani said on Wednesday that he thinks it’s an “excellent idea” to monitor Muslims on the federal watch list through electronic monitoring tags.

“I would think that’s an excellent idea,” Giuliani told reporters at a press conference, according toNJ Advance Media. “If you’re on the terror watch list, I should you know you’re on the terror watch list. You’re on there for a reason.”

Giuliani said he would suggest that Trump use the same measure of electronically monitoring people as in France. Both the attackers involved in the killing of a priest in Normandy on Tuesday were already known to French security services and on watch lists, and one was being monitored through an electronic tag.

The terrorism watch list and no-fly list are notorious for ethnic and religious profiling, and many innocent people end up on the list — but Giuliani’s comments come as no surprise given his own penchant for surveillance of the Muslim community, another ineffective practice, during his time as New York’s mayor.

“I put undercover agents in mosques for the first time in January 1994,” said Giuliani, following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing which left six dead and hundreds wounded. “I did it because the 1993 bombing was planned in a mosque in Union City, New Jersey, and a second plan was uncovered to bomb our subways, which was foiled. And I kept those police officers in those mosques until I left as mayor.

Surveillance of the Muslim community in New York grew exponentially after the 9/11 attacks, andaccording to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), involved the mapping of Muslim communities, heavy photo and video surveillance, police informants, and entire databases with personal information about innocent Muslims. The ACLU has deemed the surveillance “unconstitutional” and said it contributes to an “atmosphere of fear and mistrust” — but perhaps equally important, such methods are wholly ineffective. According to a 2012 report from the Associated Press, in six years of spying on Muslims, listening to their conversations, and cataloging mosques, the NYPD didn’t get a single lead or begin even one terrorism investigation.

The watch lists Giuliani wants to monitor Muslims through also don’t work. As ThinkProgress has previously reported:

Before September 11, 2001, the no-fly list, which names people who are banned from boarding flights in or out of the U.S., contained 16 people. A leak revealed that that number had grown to 47,000 as of 2013. Most of those names were added after President Obama took office. The broader terrorist watch list maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center has an even more expansive scope; the estimated number of people on the list has ranged from 700,000 to more than 1.5 million, figures which include Americans and foreigners.

The watch lists are so huge, and riddled with errors, in large part due to the low bar for evidence. The government’s March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance, for example, notes that “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary” to put someone on a watch list.

Trump has previously called for registering all Muslims in a “database,” racial profiling of Muslims, and banning all Muslims from the United States — a ban which his adviser once said would include Muslim Americans as well. He has also suggested that Muslims know about attacks before they happen and do nothing to stop them and said that Obama, who he has repeatedly called a Muslim, is allowing Muslims to commit attacks like the one in Orlando last month.

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