Congressmen with two very different takes on keeping America safe after terrorist attacks debated the role of civil liberties in monitoring Muslim communities Sunday on Meet the Press.
New York’s Peter King, a Republican and outspoken advocate for surveillance in the Muslim community, said that law enforcement may not have followed up on leads on Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev out of a fear of seeming “anti-Muslim or anti-Islam.”
“What the NYPD is doing in New York with a thousand police officers focusing on this issue, knowing where the threat is coming from,” King said. “The threat is coming from the Muslim community. In previous times, when certain elements in a community are the ones responsible for crime, the police focused on it.”
But Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democrat from Michigan who is also the first Muslim elected to congress, said that targeting specific groups was an ineffective way to combat terrorism.
“If Tamerlan Tsarnaev is evidencing dangerous behavior, by all means, go after him,” Ellison said. “But once you start saying, ‘we’re going to dragnet or surveil a community,’ you go after people who don’t have anything to do with it.”
Ellison pointed to the recent ricin letters sent to President Obama and two officials as an act of terrorism that was not borne out of the Muslim community.