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The recently revealed joint CIA/NYPD operations being run all along the Eastern Seaboard are, of course, completely illegal but are perhaps symptomatic of the past decade’s use of the word “terrorist” to excuse any and all bad behavior by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The NYPD Intelligence Division and Counter-Terrorism Bureau, which incorporates a “dirty tricks” undercover Special Services Unit and a Terrorist Interdiction Unit that runs informants and maps the city’s “human terrain,” is headed by David Cohen, a former top CIA analyst. Its budget is $62 million per year.

To summarize for those who have not read the lengthy investigative report by Associated Press, the CIA had senior officers posted to New York City who worked directly with the NYPD to establish what amounted to an Agency Station within the police force. They instructed undercover cops, including one who was actually trained at the CIA’s “Farm” facility in Williamsburg Virginia, to recruit sources in the local Muslim communities and to use informants to search for possible terrorism hotspots in book stores, cafes, and mosques. NYPD officers and their own “snitch” sources did the trolling but they were directed by CIA officers and, ignoring normal police and FBI guidelines, did not require probable cause of criminal activity to initiate an operation.

Operations were run not only in New York, but throughout northern New Jersey and as far away as Massachusetts without any liaison with the local authorities or even with the FBI. Reports on every mosque in the New York area were compiled by undercover officers and informants. Liaison offices were established in eleven foreign cities, not unlike CIA stations. Apparently, only Muslims were targeted initially, though antiwar activists were also pursued by the Bureau during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Court documents reveal that one of the questions police asked protesters who were detained was “Do you hate George W. Bush?’

Cohen’s Bureau regularly shreds documents relating to its operations so there will be no paper trail. The FBI has refused to let its New York office even look at the information that is being collected by the NYPD intelligence unit because it considers it illegal. There are perhaps inevitably close ties with the Israelis, who have advised the New Yorkers on how to map the “human terrain” based on how they control the West Bank. A top Cohen deputy, Mordecai Dzikansky, headed the so-called Demographic Unit, which keeps records on ethnic communities. He somewhat ingenuously describes his version of demographics as “It’s not profiling. It’s a question of going where the problem could arise.” Dzikansky also was posted to Israel.

At a minimum, the NYPD intelligence unit is overwhelmingly targeting one religious community and illegally collecting information on American citizens and residents who are innocent of any crime. They are justifying doing so due to suspicion that someone might be contemplating a crime, which criminalizes thoughts rather than deeds and violates the First Amendment. They are violating their own rules for initiating an investigation as well as the guidelines set down by the FBI and are operating far removed from their jurisdiction in New York City under no legal authority. The CIA, for its part, is clearly engaged in and supporting domestic spying. The Bureau and Agency are also collaborating in illegally using CIA resources, as most of the officers in question seconded to New York were paid out of Langley and were presumably able to tap into sensitive Agency data bases.

I am waiting for Eric Holder to say something. Tell me Eric, will you launch a Justice Department investigation or will you ignore the whole matter, “looking forward” as your boss in the White House has so often recommended? If you choose to ignore it, presumably because you are interested in how New York City votes for 2012, it will be just one more chipping away at the liberties that we Americans used to enjoy. But we have become accustomed to that.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: CIA, NYPD 
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  1. Jim Bovard says: • Website

    Excellent analysis – thanks for posting. That AP story shattered my faith in the NYPD.

  2. The NYPD always has a “Red Squad” that kept track of the local commies, indeed many large departments did in the old days. Post 9/11 I can see the concern due to the erosion of our civil liberties. The story cites the lack of working confidence between the NYPD and the FBI. I can personally testify to this.

    The presence of an active NYPD regional intelligence effort was more than hinted at in the press several times before. In fact the NYPD proclaimed their intent to vigorously collect intelligence. So this story is not exactly surprising.

    It seems to me that some sort of domestic anti-terror intelligence unit needs to exist. If the FBI is not up to the job that need doesn’t go away. But Cops should not be doing that job. A dedicated domestic intelligence service with an information gathering only mission is needed. Something like MI5. Instances of immanent violence could always be referred to the FBI or local authorities in the event of that ticking time bomb scenario. No system would be perfect but cops are always guided by the need to make cases and of course they all answer to political prosecutors. Better to have a professional cadre of information collectors/operatives.

  3. What next, seal training at Rodman’s Neck? Has anyone noticed the paucity of terrorism related cases in America over the past decade and and that the majority of them have been of chicken crap quality. Questionable informants appear to have been in them up to their necks. It should be interesting to see how low they can go with scheming informants getting to cherry pick what cop, Police Department, agent, agency they get to work with. Try to fix accountability in that mare’s nest. The CIA Director goes to DoD, the General goes to CIA, the law enforcement structure of America becomes a militarized informant laden terrorism task force with nothing much authentic to do… I would say we have a problem. And this with a Democrat in the White House. I would say we have a big problem.

  4. It’s baffling to me that all this is justified by 9/11, as if the NYPD having a few bargain-bin CIA goons in New Jersey and Massachusetts would’ve stopped either the hijackers or the hijacked planes.

  5. The best deal is to scratch the Department of Homeland Security and its unconstitutional domestic spying programs, end the wars abroad bring our troops home and mind our own business. Maybe then we wouldn’t need to have such massive intelligence networks.

  6. hindsight says:

    “as if […]a few bargain-bin CIA goons in New Jersey and Massachusetts would’ve stopped either the hijackers or the hijacked planes”

    It would have helped much more if the Federal government had strictly enforced our immigration laws. In a different sense, it would have also helped if they had enforced the laws requiring Israel lobby groups like AIPAC to register as agents of a foreign power.

  7. “It would have helped much more if the Federal government had strictly enforced our immigration laws.”

    How would that have helped? All of the hijackers as far as I know entered the US with visas which were valid on their face and some even under their own names. All of them entered on temporary visas of one type or another; none as immigrants. Once in the US several overstayed their visas and maybe that is the enforcement being referred to, but many millions visit the US every year, many from countries where the US doesn’t even require visas. The size of the police state apparatus which would be required to keep tabs on all visitors would make our present national security state seem like freedom by comparison. I’d sooner take my chances with the occasional terrorist than see the US hermetically sealed from all immigrants and visitors as well. I have no desire to live in a continent wide Burma or North Korea.

  8. Previously, drugs and child abuse were the boogeymen. Now, terrorism is added to the list of “toss the Constitution out the window” activities. These activities read like something out of the KGB or Stasi in the 50s.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I seems to me that the best way to begin to stop all this illegal nonsense is to avoid voting into office the Neo-Repubilcans or Democrats. Although I don’t believe in all of the social beliefs of Ron Paul, he is the only politician who has consistently voted against the actions of our government which have brought us to the point of being a police state. Foreign entanglements, policing the world, deficit spending, continual violations of our Constitution, Homeland Security. Obama was voted in to office to pull us back from the path that Bush had led us. Instead, we got Bush Lite. More constitutionally violating FISA and Patriot Act II. More war. Keeping Obama in office in 2012 will perpetuate our problems. Voting into office any of the other Neo-Republican hopefuls will be as bad. Its very interesting that the monetary donations of those who are on point in policing the world and fighting the wars (our men and women in uniform) are greatest for Ron Paul among of all the other politicians, both Neo_Republican and Democrat. And that includes Obama. We need the change that Ron Paul will make. Let’s vote him into office and give him a chance.

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