CNN has hired John Miller, a former New York Metropolis Police Division official who lied in regards to the division’s historical past of surveilling Muslims, to be its chief regulation enforcement and intelligence analyst — a transfer that has alarmed civil rights leaders and activists.
“John will assist ship on CNN’s dedication to sort out advanced points whereas presenting audiences with impartial, goal information and significant evaluation throughout platforms,” Chris Licht, CNN’s relatively new chairman and CEO, said in a press release Tuesday. “As each a superb journalist and skilled, compelling material skilled, he brings to the community an unbelievable breadth of data.”
Critics, nonetheless, have referred to as consideration to different features of Miller’s document. Whereas testifying earlier than the New York Metropolis Council in March, Miller denied that the NYPD ever inappropriately spied on Muslims, regardless that the division has acknowledged that it ran a Muslim surveillance program after the Sept. 11 assaults.
Whereas working this system — which was uncovered in 2011 in a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press report — the NYPD used census knowledge to spy on Muslim People in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, putting undercover informants in predominantly Muslim communities. The informants took footage and movies of mosquegoers, recorded the license plate numbers of worshippers, chatted with Muslim enterprise homeowners, frolicked in hookah bars — and reported the whole lot again to the NYPD.
The NYPD has admitted that this system did not produce a single lead to any terrorist plot, and the division has settled at least three lawsuits pertaining to the surveillance program prior to now few years. Miller refused to confess any wrongdoing by the NYPD, and claimed there was no evidence of inappropriate surveillance.
However members of the Muslim neighborhood say this system brought about irreversible harm, they usually query what Miller’s new function at CNN may imply for protection of Muslim People at a time when Islamophobia is on the rise.
CNN didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.
Shahana Hanif, the primary feminine Muslim member of New York’s metropolis council, instructed HuffPost that Miller needs to be eliminated, and that she doesn’t imagine he could possibly be goal.
“For him to have the ability to tackle a place that can give him a broader influence to an outlet that many people belief is simply one other reminder of simply how Muslims in our metropolis are handled,” Hanif mentioned. “I hope that CNN is watching the sort of backlash and the response to this hiring, and they need to take very severely the voices of the Muslim neighborhood as a result of we’re viewers too. We too need goal information.”
Hanif, who questioned Miller throughout an eight-hour metropolis council assembly earlier this 12 months, was one in every of a number of Muslim leaders who met with New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams after the testimony and pushed for Miller to be fired. Miller, who was the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism on the time, resigned from the NYPD after native officers, together with Adams, disavowed the feedback he made throughout his testimony.
Information retailers want to recollect and name out the NYPD’s actions and the damaging results they’d on Muslim People, mentioned Naz Ahmad, performing director of the Creating Legislation Enforcement Accountability & Duty challenge on the Metropolis College of New York College of Legislation. CLEAR filed one of many lawsuits in opposition to the NYPD.
“The unwillingness to mirror upon the outcomes of what you will have carried out and to not see that as an issue, I feel that that implies that perhaps anyone’s going to have hassle being goal,” Ahmad mentioned. “On the very least, don’t deny that it occurred.”
Moiz Mohammed, who was a plaintiff in one other case in opposition to the NYPD that was settled in 2019, mentioned it’s “startling” that CNN employed Miller.
“If he was being introduced on right here as an occasional contributor to signify varied spectrums of views, that’s one other factor. However to be employed as such a senior function, the place numerous these items that he should be overlaying sooner or later will intersect with this — I simply don’t perceive that,” Mohammed mentioned. “It simply takes away the credibility of how CNN will deal with these matters transferring ahead.”
Ahmed Mohamed, the authorized director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, mentioned he questions whether or not Miller can “be credible for a serious information community.”
“He had a serious function in destroying the lives of Muslims in New York Metropolis, main the unconstitutional surveillance program,” Mohamed mentioned. “He shouldn’t have the same function at CNN, additional stigmatizing and marginalizing Muslims.”
Miller beforehand served as a correspondent for CBS Information and ABC Information, and labored as a spokesperson for the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Division.
Al-Haj Talib Abdur-Rashid, the senior imam on the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in New York and an outspoken critic of Miller, mentioned Miller’s hiring factors to a bigger difficulty relating to how marginalized teams are coated within the media.
“All of us, as Americans, must be diligent with regards to the information that’s being reported by people who do not need a document for defending the rights of Americans within the identify of safety,” Abdur-Rashid mentioned.
Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Issues for America, a nonprofit media watchdog group, raised related issues. He mentioned anti-Muslim bias is usually not taken as severely by information retailers as discrimination in opposition to different teams, and research present that Muslims are typically portrayed negatively in American media.
“If the sorts of issues that he had carried out and mentioned about Muslims had been carried out to different teams, we wouldn’t be having this dialog proper now, as a result of he wouldn’t have been employed,” Carusone mentioned.
CORRECTION: A earlier model of this story described Hanif as “the primary and solely Muslim member of New York’s metropolis council.” She is the primary feminine Muslim member.