A shocking report revealing the NYPD’s use of covert officers to monitor the city’s Muslim community post-9/11 – even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing – angered Muslim groups Wednesday over the potential violation of civil liberties and put the department on the defensive.
The Associated Press’ investigation shows a reportedly cozy relationship between the police and the CIA, “a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying,” according to the AP.
Although the CIA is restricted in its involvement in domestic intelligence, the AP suggests a CIA veteran was allowed to direct and mentor police officers with help from former CIA Director George Tenet.
A secret Demographic Unit within the NYPD was formed to spy on ethnic communities, visiting bars and beauty salons, and also used “mosque crawlers” to eavesdrop in places of worship even with no perceived threat, the AP said.
It’s a questionable practice because even the FBI, which has jurisdiction in domestic cases, wouldn’t be allowed to do so under the federal Privacy Act, according to the AP.
In a statement Wednesday, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne blasted the report as “marked by outright fiction” and said “even a piece driven by NYPD critics shows that we’re doing all we reasonably can to stop terrorists from killing even more New Yorkers.”
The New York Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) hosted a news conference Wednesday with other interfaith groups and politicians to demand the Justice Department investigate the report.
"Programs like this are a violation not only of the civil rights of American Muslims, but are a violation of the trust we place in our law enforcement," said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Manager Cyrus McGoldrick.
A Justice Department spokeswoman told amNewYork it is reviewing the request.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), chair of the public safety committee, defended the NYPD’s actions and said the cooperation between the police and CIA is “evidence of us being much safer.”