NYU Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice recently obtained a secret police document through a Freedom of Information Request. The May 2006 NYPD intelligence report entitled “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City” provides insight into NYPD intelligence, its unusual partnership with the CIA, and its recent practice of “[e]xpand[ing] and focus[ing] intelligence collections at Shi’a mosques.” Documents previously obtained by the Associated Press show widespread infiltration of mosques and the NYPD has offered no apologies for aggressively spying on Muslim groups in the name of foiling terror plots. But the secret document contradicts statements by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the document was a “contingency plan” that “talked about what we would do if there were hostilities involving Iran.”
The document also reveals that a 72-minute film entitled “The Third Jihad” was shown, as of March 23, 2011, to 68 lieutenants, 159 sergeants, 31 detectives, and 1,231 patrol officers. The film claims that Muslims are seeking to “infiltrate and dominate America.” The document suggests that the Clarion Fund was responsible for enormous contributions to the NYPD and using its own proceeds from its film, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to pay to distribute tens of millions of copies of “The Third Jihad” DVD’s. The Police Department has no intention of correcting any false impressions the movie might have given.
The NYPD is prohibited under both its own guidelines and city law from basing its investigations on religion and its intelligence unit operates in secrecy with little outside oversight – the City Council is not informed about secret intelligence programs and it is not overseen by Congress. The Obama administration has sidestepped questions about whether it endorses the NYPD’s tactics. The document also suggests a broader intelligence mission than acknowledged and perhaps warranted: surveillance has been extended to Shiite mosques outside the department’s jurisdiction in Connecticut and New Jersey, and there are officers stationed in 11 foreign cities (London, Paris, Madrid, Tel Aviv). NYPD officers abroad are not supposed to be spies and do not answer to the U.S. director of national intelligence or the CIA, in a program paid for by a nonprofit organization that raises money from corporate donors.
Is the NYPD trampling on civil rights? Blurring the lines between foreign and domestic spying? Violating domestic and international law in its practices?
To view the NYPD document, go here.