4:25 pm May. 10, 20121
Last night, the fight over the New York Police Department's interrogation tactics found its way to the House floor, when New Jersey congressman Rush Holt introduced an amendment "to prohibit any federal funds from flowing to law enforcement organizations that engage in any form of racial, ethnic or religious profiling."
Holt singled out the NYPD for criticism.
He was promptly and vehemently opposed by Long Island Representative Peter King.
"Last night was such a frontal and, I thought, slanderous attack on the NYPD, I don't know how anyone could have voted in favor of that amendment to be honest with you," King told me this morning.
But the amendment drew considerable support, including from most of the members from New York City. The bill failed on a mostly party line vote of 193-232, but all of the city's Democratic representatives voted in favor of the bill.
Three New York Democrats from outside the city—Kathy Hochul, Brian Higgins and Carolyn McCarthy—were among the eight Democrats who voted against it. (Gregory Meeks and Louise Slaughter, who is recovering from a broken leg, didn't vote.)
The amendment itself didn't mention the NYPD by name, but arguing for it on the House floor, Holt cited "a pattern of surveillance and infiltration by the New York Police Department against innocent American Muslims in the absence of a valid investigative reason," and said the department's "surreptitious, uncoordinated, and unprofessional approach to counter terrorism prevention within the American Muslim community shows that they have learned nothing from the lessons elucidated from the 9/11 Commission's report."
The department came under criticism from numerous New Jersey officials, including Governor Chris Christie and Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, after the AP reported that it had conducted surveillance on Muslim groups based there.
Holt added that "profiling is an unthinking, lazy, unprofessional approach to police work and intelligence work," and cited as evidence of the NYPD's "sloppiness," he said the department "failed to uncover" the plots by Faisal Shahzad, who unsuccessfully planted a car bomb in Times Square, and Najibullah Zazi, who aborted a potential subway bombing.
King, a staunch defender of the NYPD, who had anticipated the amendment and so was waiting around to argue against it, said he "disagree[d] with virtually every word spoken on the floor tonight by the gentleman from New Jersey."
King said the NYPD had been praised by everyone from John Brennan to Robert Mueller to General Petrateus, and discounted the stories about
"These slanderous attacks by the Associated Press and The New York Times cannot point out one instance of a law being violated or one provision of the Constitution being violated," King said. "We should be here tonight giving the NYPD a medal."