King: Disbanded NYPD Muslim surveillance program worked

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday came out against the decision to disband a secretive New York City program that spied on Muslims.

“I would say these programs have worked. I feel strongly they have,” King said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I believe they have tremendous respect for constitutional rights.” 

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton decided a day earlier to close down his department’s Demographics Unit, which dispatched plainclothes officers to Muslim communities to eavesdrop on them in an effort to track down terrorism leads.

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“The reality is the threat is going to come from the Muslim community,” King said. “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of Muslims are good Americans, but the fact is the Islamic terrorist threat comes from the Muslim community and good detective work is knowing who is in that community.”

The congressman previously served as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. 

King called The New York Times’ reporting on the issue over the last few years “shameful,” adding that the newspaper has “attacked the NYPD.”

In 2011, the Associated Press published documents that described the program, which began in 2003. Civil rights group and even a senior FBI official have criticized the program for violating people’s privacy and harming national security.

Two federal lawsuits have also been launched against the NYPD’s tactics, which King said is “not spying,” but “legitimate police work.”

“I think the threat today is more dangerous than it was on 9/11,” King added.

Core al Qaeda has really been “hit hard,” he said, but splinter groups and self-starters are on the rise.