The latest scandal surrounding the New York Police Department suggests that the Big Apple’s boys in blue were targeting Muslims in undercover operations, working outside of their jurisdiction and profiling ethnic communities with aid from the CIA.
The NYPD are denying allegations reported by The Associated Press that the Police Department has been sending undercover informants into mosques, minority neighborhoods, hookah bars and other hangouts frequented by Muslims in order to gather intel, despite having no probable cause to suspect crimes were being hatched.
A federal judge overruled a law in 2002 that kept cops from waiting for “specific information” before gathering intelligence, and ever since the NYPD has used this to their advantage to infringe on the constitutional rights of Muslims by spying on them in what is being suggested as an anti-terrorism initiative.
Retired-CIA Chief David Cohen tells the AP that he helped overrule that legislation nearly a decade ago, and with the help of the NYPD installed a “Demographic Unit” within the Police Department. The undercover police officers involved were then sent to houses of worship and other locales in order to get an insight into what followers of Islam were up to. If these “mosque crawlers,” as Cohen calls them, were conducting operations, the surveillance they carried out could be highly illegal.
Cohen tells the AP that it’s no racial profiling, however. He says that in a post-9/11 New York City, measures are necessary to keep another terror attack from taking the city by storm.
"It's like, after a shooting, do you go 20 blocks away and interview guys or do you go to the neighborhood where it happened?" asks Cohen.
The AP adds that Pakistani officers were sent into Pakistani cafes to look for signs of potential terrorism, and that some NYPD cops were even sent out of the city, into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and outside America, in order to gain information. The deployments into areas well outside the jurisdiction of the NYPD could be not only illegal, but the AP says they were done without the approval or warning to the local law enforcement agencies that normally look out in those areas.
Also in the dark was the FBI, who the Associated Press says found out about one undercover operation in New Jersey after responding to a report of a suspected terrorist. A building superintendent found terrorist literature all over a room on his property in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 2009, and, suspecting he stumbled upon the next-9/11, alerted authorities. The FBI responded to the scene, only later to find out that the site was actually a command center for the NYPD's “Demographic Unit.” In that instance, not only did the NYPD operate outside of their geographic jurisdiction, but federal investigators were left ignorant of operations they should have been handling that were carried out unbeknownst to them.
According to the report, release today, the long arm of the law is a lot longer than one thinks.
Mordecai Dzikansky, author of "Terrorist Suicide Bombings: Attack Interdiction, Mitigation and Response," says NYPD officers were stationed in nearly a dozen cities overseas. Dzikansky says he served in Israel and was deployed “to ask the New York question." On the scene, Dzikansky says he’d report to bring info back home. "Why this location? Was there something unique that the bomber had done? Was there any pre-notification. Was there a security lapse?"
Dzikansky defends it just like Cohen, saying it wasn’t racial profiling at all. "It's not a question of profiling,” he tells the AP. “It's a question of going where the problem could arise. And thank God we have the capability. We have the language capability and the ethnic officers. That's our hidden weapon."
Meanwhile, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says the notion that the CIA has installed Big Apple coppers as “mosque crawlers” is the figment of someone’s “great imagination.” He adds that the police try to thwart terrorism as much as they can, but does not scour streets of Muslims looking for leads.
Browne adds, however, that "The New York Police Department is doing everything it can to make sure there's not another 9/11 here and that more innocent New Yorkers are not killed by terrorists."
"And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard," says Browne.
If proven true, the AP says the installation of undercover NYPD agents and their deployment overseas “would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government” and that the partnership between the New York cops and the CIA “has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.”