By Vladimir Gladkov
The scandal over the CIA’s partnership with the New York City Police Department aimed at conducting covert surveillance on Muslims living in New York has reached a new level. Despite the CIA officials’ statement saying that internal investigation found no wrongdoings in the controversial collaboration, The Associated Press found out that the CIA’s top lawyer had never approved sending a CIA officer to work with the NYPD. The fact of the violation of the standard procedure set by a 1981 presidential order pours more oil into fire of public discontent caused by the shady methods of the law enforcers.
According to The Associated Press report published in August, the NYPD collaborated with the CIA on a program of dispatching undercover agents into Muslim neighborhoods to gather intelligence on potential extremist activities.The reports caused deep discontent among civil liberties advocates and local Muslim communities.
However, both the NYPD and the CIA denied any allegations, describing the reports as “fictional”. “The CIA inspector general has completed a review of the CIA’s relationship with the NYPD and has found no violation of the law or executive order on the part of CIA,” said agency spokesman Preston Golson. “The IG also found no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted ‘domestic spying.'”
But the AP further reports not only demonstrated evidence of the partnership, but also found that the program had violated the US presidential order. According to a 1981 order, the CIA is permitted to provide “specialized equipment, technical knowledge or assistance of expert personnel” to other government agencies including police only after receiving the approval of the CIA’s general counsel. The main reason for the procedure is to make sure that the agency doesn’t enter the field of domestic spying.
According to the reports by Associated Press, the CIA did not only cross that line but also managed to ignore the presidential order. As the former CIA officials who prefer to remain anonymous told the AP, the approval by the CIA’s top lawyer has never been received. However, this didn’t stop CIA Director George Tenet from sending veteran agency officer Lawrence Sanchez to New York in 2002 to work with the NYPD on a program of spying on city Muslims. At the NYPD Sanchez worked together with David Cohen – a former senior CIA officer who had been assigned as a head of the department’s intelligence division soon after 9/11. As the Associated Press materials demonstrated, the idea was perfectly realized, leading to a construction of a perfect spying machine, which was scrupulously monitoring the life of New York Muslim communities. CIA-trained undercover police officers managed to infiltrate every aspect of life in minorities’ neighborhoods – from daily routine to religious services.
The revelation not only led to the protests of human rights activists and Muslim community leaders but also caused deep discontent of the American politicians. Thirty-four lawmakers demanded to start a special Justice Department’s investigation. The anxiety of the American politicians is explainable. The Associated Press reports not only question the already doubtful methods of the CIA, but present a potential to seriously hurt the international image of America. The number one preacher of human and civil rights on the world arena, the US government, once again has demonstrated that it doesn’t hesitate to break its own laws pursuing its murky goals. While it’s hard to understate the threat of terrorism, the fact of an unlawful collaboration between the CIA and police may easily undermine the citizens’ trust in their government. However, it is hard to imagine that the CIA, which is used to play by its own rules would even bother to look for an explanation of its actions.