Since 9/11, the New York Police Department has teamed up with the CIA to covertly, according to an investigative piece put out by the Associated Press on Wednesday morning.
The NYPD would dispatch a team of undercover officers, known as rakers to spy on minority communities as part of what officials told the AP was a human mapping program. The officers monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs, the article mentioned. Furthermore, police used informants, or mosque crawlers, to monitor sermons, even when no evidence of wrongdoing existed.
The article notes that neither the city council nor the federal governments, who both fund the NYPD, are fully briefed on the matters.
Much of the investigative piece centered on David Cohen, who was hired away from the CIA to become the police department's civilian intelligence chief. During his tenure at the NYPD, Cohen created a secret squad that went into Muslim neighborhoods, sources told the AP.
Using census data, the department matched undercover officers to ethnic communities, where the officers would blend into the respective ethnic communities. For example, a Pakistani-American officer may be assigned to cover Pakistani-communities. The officers would frequently hang out in cafés and coffee shops to look for suspicious activity.
In order to build the new operation, Cohen received assistance from Larry Sanchez from the FBI. Cohen and Sanchez dispatched more police officers to Pakistani neighborhoods, and, one former police official told the AP, instructed officers to look for reasons to stop cars, including for speeding, broken tail lights, etc. Then, they could probe the drivers for warrants or suspicious behavior.
Some officials told the AP that these policies did not run counter to a 2004 New York City Law prohibiting the NYPD from using ethnicity or religion as the determinative factor for initiating law enforcement action.
Furthermore, The NYPD asked the taxi commission to run a report on all the city's Pakistani cab drivers in order to figure out, among other things, which of the drivers could have gotten their licenses fraudulently.
Trying to keep the entire program secret, the police would frequently shed documents discussing the details, some former officials said.
The NYPD has defended the operations in interviews with the AP.
The breaking news could further strain tension between minority communities and the police. In a news release put out after the article's publication, the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced they will hold a news conference in Manhattan to call on the U.S. Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the allegations.
These revelations send the message to American Muslims that they are being viewed as a suspect community and that their constitutional rights may be violated with impunity, said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper in the statement. The Justice Department must initiate an immediate investigation of the civil rights implications of this spy program and the legality of its links to the CIA.