CNN Hires Ex-Cop Accused of Lying About NYPD's Surveillance of Muslims

A New York City councilwoman says new CNN hire John Miller 'lied to my face' under oath.

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Signage is seen at CNN center, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Atlanta.
Signage is seen at CNN center, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Atlanta.
Photo: Mike Stewart (AP)

CNN has announced a new hire: John Miller, the former head of the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit.

Miller’s best-known work in media was as a television reporter in the 1990s, when he interviewed the likes of John Gotti and Osama bin Laden. More recently, though, he is remembered as the senior police official who bizarrely claimed there’s “no evidence” that NYPD ever spied on Muslim New Yorkers.

But the NYPD did spy on Muslim New Yorkers, illicitly. This is an extensively documented fact. It even got help from the CIA.

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In a statement published by CNN Tuesday, Miller, who’s been named chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, said he was proud to join the network “at a time when covering the news, getting it right and delivering it in a straightforward way has never been more vital to the American public.”

Miller made the claim about the non-existence of the spying during an eight-hour hearing on public safety in March, three months before departing the police force. Shahana Hanif, the city’s first and only Muslim council member, had asked Miller if he’d commit to disclosing information about the surveillance operations and issue a public apology.

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Miller responded by declaring “there is no evidence” to support the belief that NYPD deployed “spies” in mosques in an effort to “entrap people.” Miller also claimed the investigations were “carried out by the book.”

Councilwoman Hanif told Gizmodo by email: “The nearly decade-long surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of the New York City Muslim community under the post-9/11 surveillance program has left deep scars, some of which have yet to heal. Knowing this full well, John Miller had the audacity to lie under oath about the nature of this program to my face.”

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“Someone like John Miller should not be in public service nor should they be given a platform on a mainstream cable news network,” Hanif added.

In 2016, an NYPD inspector general’s report found the department had repeatedly violated court-imposed rules covering investigations of political activity, and that, “more than half of the time” it employed informants and undercover officers without proper authorization.

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Strikingly, the report found that, of the investigations it assessed that ran afoul of established surveillance policies, 95 percent targeted Muslims.

Between August and September 2011, the Associated Press published 10 reports documenting what it called the “heart” of the NYPD’s spying program, its so-called “Demographics Unit.” The series was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. That same year, NYPD’s chief of intelligence, Thomas Galati, testified that in six years the Demographics Unit had failed to generate any leads, and had commenced zero terror investigations.

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NYPD had initially lied to reporters, claiming the unit didn’t exist. However, in 2014, years after the revelations, the department announced the unit would be disbanded. The city, meanwhile, was forced to settle multiple federal lawsuits, and agree not to engage in further religious-based surveillance.

Following Miller’s testimony, which was made under oath, NYC Mayor Eric Adams sought to correct the record. “What we did was wrong,” he said.

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Miller could not be reached for comment.

Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy council for the civil rights organization Muslim Advocates, characterized CNN’s decision to hire Miller as “shameful” and a “cruel joke.”

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“We have no faith that as chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst at CNN, Miller won’t continue to propagandize on behalf of law enforcement and dismiss clear discrimination against Muslims and other marginalized communities,” Waheed said.

In a statement, CNN Worldwide CEO and Chairman Chris Licht highlighted Miller’s work for the NYPD, saying his time on the force would bring a “unique perspective” to the network’s coverage of crime and terrorism.

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“John will help deliver on CNN’s commitment to tackle complex issues while presenting audiences with independent, objective news and meaningful analysis across platforms,” said Licht. “As both a brilliant journalist and experienced, compelling subject matter expert, he brings to the network an incredible breadth of knowledge.”

CNN could not be immediately reached for comment.