Pulitzers to the AP for their work showing how the NYPD has come to look more and more like a domestic CIA.
The AP has helpfully compiled links here to the 20+ stories in the series. If you have time to read only one, read the first story, With CIA Help, NYPD Moves Covertly in Muslim Areas:
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.
Using routine police tactics to facilitate spying:
They dispatched more officers to Pakistani neighborhoods and, according to one former police official directly involved in the effort, instructed them to look for reasons to stop cars: speeding, broken tail lights, running stop signs, whatever. The traffic stop gave police an opportunity to search for outstanding warrants or look for suspicious behavior. An arrest could be the leverage the police needed to persuade someone to become an informant.
Improper profiling? No way…
“It’s not a question of profiling. It’s a question of going where the problem could arise,” said Mordecai Dzikansky, a retired NYPD intelligence officer who said he was aware of the Demographic Unit. “And thank God we have the capability. We have the language capability and the ethnic officers. That’s our hidden weapon.”
Using criminal records or threat of prosecution to create informants:
To identify possible informants, the department created what became known as the “debriefing program.” When someone is arrested who might be useful to the intelligence unit _ whether because he said something suspicious or because he is simply a young Middle Eastern man _ he is singled out for extra questioning. Intelligence officials don’t care about the underlying charges; they want to know more about his community and, ideally, they want to put him to work.
Police are in prisons, too, promising better living conditions and help or money on the outside for Muslim prisoners who will work with them.
April 20 Update: In NYC today, the White House’s top antiterrorism adviser John Brennan said he has “full confidence that the NYPD is doing things consistent with the law,”