Ted Cruz Confronted By Anderson Cooper On ‘Muslim Surveillance’ At CNN Townhall Meeting

Ted Cruz was forced to defend his controversial call for surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods if elected president at a CNN live nationally televised town hall meeting in Wisconsin last night.

Cruz was asked about his stance by host Anderson Cooper. He quoted Cruz’ rival, John Kasich, on the proposal.

“So what we want do to is start policing Muslim neighborhoods, create more division?… This is just politics, trying to appeal to people’s baser instincts and fears.”

Cooper then asked Cruz, “Is that what you’re doing?”


Cruz responded, “Look. I believe what we need is a commander-in-chief who is actually focused on keeping this country safe.”

Cooper interrupted Cruz, asking him which neighborhoods he as president would decide to survey.

Cruz then criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the Brussels terrorist attack, alluding to his decision to remain at an exhibition baseball game when the news broke.

“And when he did” address the Brussels attack, Cruz said, “he followed this bizarre pattern that he has followed for year after year after year, where he refuses to say the words, ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ Instead… he goes on television and he lectures Americans about Islamophobia. Enough is enough! How about a president who actually stands up and defends this country?”

The audience applauded for Cruz as Cooper cut in and asked, “So what does that mean, ‘patrol Muslim neighborhoods’?”

“What it means is that we target the enemy. Now, there is a difference between ‘Islam’ and ‘Islamism.’ ‘Islamism’ is a political and theocratic philosophy that commands its adherents to wage violent jihad, to murder or to forcibly convert all infidels–and by infidels, they mean everyone of the rest of us. ‘Islamism’ is our enemy.”

Cruz Surveillance Proposal Patterned After New York City Program

Cruz went on to criticize Obama for bringing Syrian Muslim refugees into America. Cooper then interjected, pointing out that while Cruz has patterned his plan after a program in New York City, the New York chief of police said that Cruz comparing his program to theirs was “bunk,” and that their program led to no leads on Muslim terrorists.

Cruz responded by saying that the chief of police “who works for [New York City Mayor] Bill de Blasio has a political imperative. De Blasio is a left-wing radical.”

Anderson Cooper Confronts Ted Cruz
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]
Cooper responded to Cruz, “The commander who oversaw the very program that you claim was a success in New York testified under oath that it didn’t lead to any investigations in the six years.”

Cruz countered that that there was, in fact, a bookstore “that was a locus for radicalization, and allowed law enforcement to go after that bookstore.”

What happened next, Cruz stated, was that when Mayor de Blasio got elected mayor in 2013, “he gave in to political correctness and shut the unit down.”

The way to have surveillance, Cruz then said, “isn’t to go and hang out in random neighborhoods. It is instead to focus on communities where radicalization is a risk.”

Cruz went on to criticize Obama for following Europe’s path of letting lots of Muslim refugees immigrate into their nations. Then, Cruz said that many of these immigrants created what are called “‘no-go’ communities, where the law enforcement doesn’t engage in those communities.”

Cruz added that one such community near Brussels, which has been “an incubator for terrorism.”

“And my point is very simple. America should not make the mistakes of Europe. We should not disengage. We should have law enforcement actively engage to stop radicalization before it [starts], and I recognize that the media and the Democrats hate it when someone actually describes who the enemy is. I’ll tell you as president, every single day I will wake up fighting radical Islamic terrorism and working to defeat it.”

Reactions To Cruz

Reactions to Ted Cruz came in quickly. In a press release, the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Cruz for “his call for fascist-like treatment of American Muslims,” and called his proposal “unconstitutional.”

President Obama addressed Cruz’s proposal at a press conference.

“I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped–for America, the land of the free.”

The Federalist, a conservative publication, rose to Cruz’s defense.

“The tragedies in Paris and Brussels show us that we need more, not less of former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelley’s approach to counter-terrorism. Cruz is right to cite his example.”

A spokesperson for Mayor De Blasio told the Guardian, “Now we know why everyone is calling Ted Cruz a liar.”

“The programs,” reported The Guardian, “which were stopped in 2014 and have been the subject of a string of lawsuits, drew criticism from civil rights groups and even some security experts who argued that they sowed mistrust between law enforcement and Muslim American communities. Cruz called the program ‘successful’ and lambasted the New York mayor for having ‘succumbed to unfounded criticisms’ when he disbanded it.”

What do you think? Is Ted Cruz correct? Or, is his surveillance proposal unconstitutional?

[Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images]

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