You are an investigative reporter for a local Brooklyn newspaper. The New York Times has just broken news on the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s clandestine surveillance program that used undercover agents and recruited informants to spy on Muslim and immigrant communities across New York City. You also have an important report revealing how the FBI has been coercing communities with vulnerable legal status into working for them as secret informants, falsely promising legal papers and safety in return.
Your editor has asked you to write a short investigative report, of 600 words (double-spaced), that examines these surveillance programs in the larger context of the so-called ‘War on Terror.’
Your report must contain two sections:
1. A first section discussing the NYPD and FBI surveillance programs and their impact on Muslim and immigrant communities.
– Read Fatma’s story in the Documented NY article and the ACLU factsheet, and watch the video “Fear Inc.” (all are in the readings) to obtain specific details of such surveillance programs.
– This section is worth 60% of the total points possible for the assignment.
2. A second section that links such surveillance programs to the broader racialized image of Black, Brown, and Muslim communities as ‘suspicious’ criminals, as seen in the cruel treatment of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
– Read excerpts from “Witnesses of the Unseen” (in the readings) for Lakhdar Boumediène’s experience being wrongfully imprisoned at Guantánamo.
– This section is worth 40% of the total points possible for the assignment.
FOR ASSIGNED READINGS:
1. Read and watch:
Online article: “How the FBI Coerced This Muslim Immigrant Into Working as an Informant,” Documented NY, December 22, 2020.
– This crucial investigative report reveals the widely-used FBI practice of targeting vulnerable Muslims, especially African Muslim migrants, in the New York and New Jersey area, enticing them with promises of papers, citizenship, and safety if they become informants and spy for the FBI in their own communities and mosques, and threatening them with deportation or incarceration should they refuse. Documented is a non-profit news site devoted to covering New York City’s immigrants and the policies that affect their lives.
Factsheet: The NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program, ACLU.
– A list of facts and statistics on the NYPD’s long-running spying and surveillance program on Muslims in NYC and NJ.
Video: “Fear Inc.: The NYPD’s Secret Muslim Surveillance Plan,” Center for American Progress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf_HmuoC-P8
– This short documentary discusses the New York Police Department’s controversial Muslim surveillance and spying program and its impact on local communities.
2. Read ALL of the excerpts below from the memoir:
Lakhdar Boumediène and Mustafa Ait Idir, Excerpts from Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo.
– Content warning: Graphic descriptions of physical assault, threats of sexual violence, sensory deprivation, torture, and psychological torment.
– In this important, powerful memoir, two former detainees unlawfully held by the U.S. military at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2001 share their stories of internment and their mistreatment by prison guards and interrogators, as well as having to live in outdoor cages while the prison was built around them. After seven years at Guantánamo with no charges, Boumediene and Idir finally won in a 2008 Supreme Court landmark case, Boumediene v. Bush, that granted Guantánamo detainees the right to a writ of habeas corpus – the right for one to be physically present in court to challenge their imprisonment.
– Lakhdar Boumediène was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Boumediene v. Bush. Prior to his seven-year internment in Guantánamo Bay, he was an Algerian aid worker for the Red Crescent Society in Bosnia. Mustafa Ait Idir, a co-plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush, was also held in Guantánamo Bay for seven years