The CIA has launched an internal probe into whether its ties with the NYPD have amounted to illegal "domestic spying" in Muslims communities that violated civil liberties.
A Muslim civil liberties organization last month called for the investigation after a report that the agency was helping cops target mosques and minority neighborhoods to drum up intelligence.
A CIA analyst is embedded with the NYPD, but no one from the agency was "out on the street collecting" intelligence, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Still, Clapper conceded that the CIA probably shouldn't be involved with local law enforcement.
"It's my personal view that that's not a good optic to have CIA involved in any city-level police department," Clapper said. He added that the investigation, which is being conducted by the agency's inspector general, would "look into specifically the propriety of that."
Still, CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf denied that the collaboration was illegal.
"The agency's operational focus, however, is overseas and none of the support we have provided to NYPD can be rightly characterized as 'domestic spying' by the CIA. Any suggestion along those lines is simply wrong," she said.
She added that it "should not be a surprise to anyone that, after 9/11, the Central Intelligence Agency stepped up its cooperation with law enforcement on counterterrorism issues or that some of that increased cooperation was in New York."
NYPD spokesman Paul Brown said of the investigation: "We welcome it."