NEW YORK, Aug 24 (Reuters) - A U.S. Muslim civil liberties
organization on Wednesday called for a federal investigation
and Senate hearings into a report the CIA was helping New York
City police gather intelligence from mosques and minority
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) suspects
the joint CIA-police intelligence-gathering described in an
Associated Press report violates the U.S. Constitution, the
U.S. Privacy Act of 1974 and a presidential order banning the
CIA from spying on Americans, CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said.
"This is hearing-worthy," Abbas said, requesting a Senate
Intelligence Committee review as part of its oversight of the
Central Intelligence Agency.
The AP report said undercover New York Police Department
officers known as "rakers" were sent into minority
neighborhoods to monitor bookstores, bars, cafes and
nightclubs, and police used informants known as "mosque
crawlers" to monitor sermons.
"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," wrote
the AP, which described the collaboration between the CIA and a
U.S. police department as unprecedented.
A police spokesman said "we don't apologize" for aggressive
techniques developed since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He said
those techniques have helped thwart 13 plots on the city.
"It (the AP report) shows that we're doing all we
reasonably can to stop terrorists from killing even more New
Yorkers," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in an
email. "We commit over a thousand officers to the fight every
day to stop terrorists who've demonstrated an undiminished
appetite to come back and kill more New Yorkers."
Browne added that the CIA does not direct the NYPD in any
intelligence gathering activities. He confirmed that the
department's intelligence chief previously worked at the CIA as
head of both its analysis and operations divisions.
Referring to CAIR's assertion that the collaboration with
the CIA might be illegal, Browne said, "They're wrong."
CAIR also called on the Justice Department to initiate an
immediate investigation "of the civil rights implications of
this spy program and the legality of its links to the CIA,"
said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's chief spokesman.
A spokesman for the Justice Department did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
In response to an inquiry about the CIA's dealings with the
NYPD, a U.S. government official told Reuters on condition of
anonymity: "If anyone is suggesting that CIA is overstepping
its legal bounds and spying on Americans, they are just plain
wrong. Lawful interactions on counterterrorism make complete
sense in today's world."
CAIR was preparing a formal request for Senate hearings and
a Justice Department probe that it would send out in the coming
days, Abbas said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Mark
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