After falsely painting the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing as frequent visitors to a local mosque, Fox News host Brian Kilmeade called for authorities to spy on mosques, despite evidence such tactics did not help any criminal investigations.
“I think that we should be able to put in listening devices in there,” Kilmeade said, before asking Peter Johnson Jr., a network contributor and trial lawyer, “Is that possible?”
Johnson quickly said no, pointing out an interview in which New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly said he would follow any lead regarding a terrorism investigation, but that it needed specific information about a “credible threat.”
Kelly’s department was heavily criticized for engaging in an illicit monitoring campaign against the local Muslim population, one that, as an August 2012 report showed, produced no significant leads in any investigations. A group of civil rights lawyers filed a suit in February 2013 accusing the department of breaking guidelines over the length and record-keeping measures it can use during an investigation.
Kilmeade did not cite any sourcing for his insinuation that the two suspects, Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, were frequent attendees at the Islamic Society of Boston Cambridge Masjid. But a mosque spokesperson, Yusufi Vali, told the Boston Globe that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shouted out by congregation members in January 2013 after loudly questioning a sermon comparing Martin Luther King Jr. to the Prophet Muhammad. In a separate statement, the mosque described the two men as “occasional visitors.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed on April 18 during a shoot-out with authorities. 19-year-old Dzokhar Tsarnaev is in custody at a Boston hospital after being apprehended on April 19.
Johnson also criticized New York state Sen. Greg Ball’s (R) public call for torturing the younger Tsarnaev.
“We don’t torture people here in America,” Johnson said. “We may engage in enhanced interrogation. The sentiment is fine, but on balance, it doesn’t help us.”
Results of a two-year investigation released on April 16 by the nonpartisan advocacy group The Constitution Project found that “enhanced interrogation” techniques like waterboarding, sensory deprivation and others ordered by then-President George W. Bush and his administration “meet the clinical definition of torture.”
Watch video posted by MediaMatters on Monday below.