CIA and NYPD Spying on Muslim Communities

Nathan Crites-Herren
The Paw Print

Recent investigations by the Associated Press have uncovered a secret partnership between the New York Police Department and the CIA, which has further intensified the blurred lines between foreign and domestic government spying.
Since September 11, 2001 there has been a drastic change within the New York Police Department.  The department initiated aggressive steps to increase its own intelligence gathering methods, deciding that trusting other agencies to do so would not effectively stop possible threats of future terrorist attacks.
Preemptive domestic spying is a part of the larger discussion which came out of the Patriot Act of the Bush Administration, which speaks to the idea that in post 9/11 America, citizens must give up some of their freedoms in order to increase their security.
The recent AP report, entitled “With CIA help NYPD Moves Covertly in Muslim Areas,” outlines the systematic spying operations of sectors of the New York work force largely populated by Muslims, like street vendors and taxi services.  Logistics of the operation consisted of aggressive wire-tapping of Muslim Mosques, book stores, political organizations, and private Muslim individuals as well as those thought to be associated with, or in support of the Muslim community. Even with no criminal evidence, the police department used informants called “Mosque Crawlers” to keep detailed notes on over a hundred Mosques within New York and some even as far away as New Jersey.
Although the CIA is prohibited from spying on Americans, the New York Police Department was able to use CIA paid and trained spies who continue to conduct a wide variety of domestic spying operations within New York and other places that far outreached their jurisdiction.
According to the report, David Cohen, a retired 35-year veteran of the CIA is the main architect of the new intelligence gathering protocols at the New York Police Department.  Although Cohen has no police experience, he was hired by the police department in January of 2002, and became the department’s first civilian intelligence chief.  As former head of CIA operations, Cohen was considered by many in the intelligence division to be the nation’s top spy.
Matt Apuzzo, reporter and co-author of the investigative report, published August 24, says that this secret CIA infiltration of the New York Police Department was kept a secret even at the highest levels.  “Neither the city council, which finances the police department, nor the federal government which as given the NYPD more than $1.6 billion science 9/11 is told exactly what is going on.”
Apuzzo’s investigation is based on uncovered documents and interviews with over 40 present and previous NYPD and federal officials.  Most of these officials were directly involved in the planning and carrying out of these clandestine operations for the department.  Due to the sensitive nature of the reports all of those interviewed by Apuzzo requested to remain anonymous.
In order for Cohen and the NYPD to increase domestic spying as a conduit for CIA type operations, they had overturn a 1985 court ruling that prohibited the NYPD from conducting surveillance of groups or individuals without first proving their involvement in criminal activity.  “Cohen, who is well connected within the CIA, personally requested that CIA director George Tenet send legal experts to New York to help overturn the district court ruling,” said Apuzzo.
Concern over the legality of these operations, that in many cases have violated the civil liberties of those being secretly monitored, has forced the Council on American-Islamic relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, to file a formal request to the justice department, asking that they look into the legality of the NYPD’s operations.
“There are a few laws that are potentially being violated by the NYPD, possibly the FBI as well as the CIA. In 1981 President Reagan issued an executive order, restricting the activities of the CIA, which is supposed to prevent the CIA from conducting any domestic spying within the United States. That looks t be the violation, insofar as the CIA is enlisting paid intermediaries to collect information while supposedly working for the NYPD,” said Gadier Abbas, a staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
According to Abbas, the second law that the NYPD has broken is a federal law known as the Privacy Act.  The law prevents any police department from maintaining records of any citizens First Amendments activities unless there is specific evidence of a crime.  “From my findings the NYPD actually uncovered very little in terms of actual criminal activity from any of these investigations, so this gives clear evidence that the Privacy Act was in fact violated by the NYPD an possibly the FBI who collected these files which were compiled by the NYPD,” added Abbas. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet