White House Pumped Millions Into NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance Programs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance.

The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.

Some of that money — it’s unclear exactly how much because the program has little oversight — has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.

When NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was filled in on these efforts, his briefings were prepared on HIDTA computers.

The AP confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. The AP also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The HIDTA grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD’s wholesale surveillance of places where Muslims eat, shop, work and pray complicates efforts by the Obama administration to stay out of the fray over New York’s controversial counterterrorism programs. The administration has championed outreach to American Muslims and has said law enforcement should not put entire communities under suspicion.

The Obama administration, however, has pointedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD programs it helps pay for. The White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments.

John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, last year called the NYPD’s efforts “heroic” but would not elaborate. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department also gives grant money to the NYPD and is one of the lead federal agencies helping police build relationships with Muslims, has refused in recent months to discuss the police tactics. Tom Perez, the Justice Department’s top civil rights lawyer, has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the NYPD.

Outside Washington, the NYPD’s efforts drew increased criticism last week. College administrators at Yale, Columbia and elsewhere issued harsh rebukes for NYPD’s infiltration of Muslim student groups and its monitoring of school websites. New Jersey’s governor and the mayor of its largest city have complained about the NYPD’s widespread surveillance there, outside New York’s police jurisdiction.

The White House HIDTA grant program was established at the height of the drug war to help police fight drug gangs and unravel supply routes. It has provided about $2.3 billion to local authorities in the past decade.

After the terror attacks, law enforcement was allowed to use some of that money to fight terrorism. It’s unclear how much HIDTA money has been used to pay for the intelligence division, in part because NYPD intelligence operations receive scant oversight in New York.

Congress, which approves the money for the program, is not provided with a detailed breakdown of activities. None of the NYPD’s clandestine programs is cited in the New York-New Jersey region’s annual reports to Congress between 2006 and 2010.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond to questions the AP sent to him in two emails about the White House money and the department’s intelligence division.

Most of the money from the White House grants in New York and New Jersey has been spent fighting drugs, said Chauncey Parker, director of the program there. He said less than $1.3 million was spent on vehicles used by the NYPD intelligence unit.

“Those cars are used to collect and analyze counterterrorism information with the goal of preventing a terrorist attack in New York City or anywhere else,” Parker said. “If it’s been used for specific counterterrorism effort, then it’s been used to pay for those cars.”

Former police officials told the AP those vehicles have been used to photograph mosques and record the license plates of worshippers.

In addition to paying for the cars, the White House money pays for part of the office space the intelligence division shares with other agencies in Manhattan.

When police compiled lists of Muslims who took new, Americanized names, they kept those records on HIDTA computer servers. That was ongoing as recently as October, city officials said.

Many NYPD intelligence officers, including those that conducted surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods, had HIDTA email addresses. Briefing documents for Kelly, the police commissioner, were compiled on HIDTA computers. Those documents described what police informants were hearing inside mosques and which academic conferences Muslim scholars attended.

When police wanted to pay a confidential informant, they were told to sign onto the HIDTA website to file the paperwork, according to a 2007 internal document obtained by the AP.

Parker said the White House grant money was never used to pay any of the NYPD intelligence division’s confidential informants. The HIDTA computer systems, he said, are platforms that allow different law enforcement agencies to share information and work.

“I am shocked to hear that federal dollars may have helped finance the NYPD’s misguided efforts to spy on Muslims in America,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., one of 34 members of Congress who have asked the Justice Department and House Judiciary Committee to investigate the NYPD.

The connection between NYPD and the White House anti-drug grant program surfaced years ago, during a long-running civil rights lawsuit against police. Civil rights attorneys asked in court about a “demonstration debriefing form” that police used whenever they arrested people for civil disobedience. The form carried the seal of both the NYPD Intelligence Division and HIDTA.

A city lawyer downplayed any connection. She said the NYPD and HIDTA not only shared office space, they also shared office supplies like paper. The NYPD form with the seal of a White House anti-drug program was “a recycled piece of paper that got picked up and modified,” attorney Gail Donoghue told a federal judge in 2003.

The issue died in court and was never pursued further.

Last week, the controversy over NYPD’s programs drew one former Obama administration official into the discussion.

After the AP revealed an extensive program to monitor Muslims in Newark, N.J., police there denied knowing anything about it. The Newark police director at the time, Garry McCarthy, has since moved on to lead Chicago’s police department where President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now the mayor.

“We don’t do that in Chicago and we’re not going to do that,” Emanuel said last week.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the NYPD surveillance in his state was “disturbing” and has asked the attorney general to investigate. Christie was New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor and sat on the HIDTA executive board during 2006 and 2007 when the NYPD was conducting surveillance in New Jersey cities. Christie said he didn’t know that, in 2007, the NYPD catalogued every mosque and Muslim business in Newark, the state’s largest city.

“I kind of think I would have remembered that,” he said on Fox Business News last week.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • otaycec

    This is one of the few things Obama has done right. The job of government is to protect its citizens. I am just surprised that the Obama adminstration was able to identify Muslims as a threat to national security. Ring one up Obama.

    • cthom053

      You massive idiot. Safety promised by government is in direct correlation to decreasing liberty. What happens when your brand of thought or religion is deemed dangerous or a threat? In this country, you are innocent until proven guilty by a jury of your peers. Like it or not, this is a dangerous but nececssary liberty to ensure that all are equal. I can’t believe you’d trade it for millions in wasted tax money and a promise from a politician to make you safe. You have sold yourself.

    • BeBAD.us

      Rusty Sabre vs Poulan Chain Saw
      Christians WIN everytime

      Islam Caliphate sound any alarm bells. Christians and atheist are both infidels in Islam eyes are are to be converted OR killed. The Muslim Brother, Arab Spring is a ends to their WORLD DOMINATION.
      WAKE UP !!

    • bumpkin

      You honestly do not realize that the BOA is doing that to ALL of us??? – Not just the Muslim Community! How is it that people in foreign Dictator countries are afraid to speak out against their dictator, some even afraid to not pretend a huge grief over the death of a dictator? A copious amount of information is gathered against everyone- not just one ethnic group- then used in sham courts to condemn dissenters to death. We are all in great danger from the BOA. I say learn to love the evil ones if you want to survive.

    • disrespectful dissenter

      Sorry otaycec, it’s welfare for pigs. And what kind of fvcking name is otaycec, a cross between apache and a zionist?

      • WhiteHouseDoesNothing

        Let’s cut the nonsense. The current administration is nothing more than a bunch of puppets for the DOD after the coup and cover up.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

  • HerrStig

    More tinfoil needed here, waiter.

  • panochey

    ~“I am shocked to hear that federal dollars may have helped finance the NYPD’s misguided efforts to spy on Muslims in America,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif.”~

    Before Ms. Chu calls surveillance on Muslims “misguided”, she’d better become very familiar with the contents of the Qur’an.

    • bumpkin

      While I have to agree with you on the threat of radical Islam to Americans and Israelites, (Israeli’s) , again, we are ALL under the same umbrella, as far as our government is concerned. Our GREATEST threat is from out of control government maniacs and thieves, THEN from Radical Islamists who just want an excuse to kill people. -ALL of us are in danger, as is the entire idea of America and Israel- ie, they aren’t just collecting info on the enemy of America, but on ALL of us. Do NOT OVERLOOK this little truth. It bodes ill for the success of our Nations.

      • Lew

        @bumpkin seems you are one of the few with a handle on the big picture here. Others- wake up. I don’t care for the colonizing muslims but they are not the issue in this case.

  • dave

    I’ll bet someone told obama they were spying on catholic school kids

  • JimCT

    Finally Obama exercises some common sense. All he needs to do is reverse course on just about everything else he has been doing and he might have a hope of winning re-election!

  • Rahm Emanuel

    Whoever said that voter recruiting was inexpensive?

    • HerrSTig

      Rhaamit says the program was just a prototype foir how the intend to “keep order” after they buy enough votes to win again. Smile for the camera folks.
      BYW, it also creats union jobs.

    • HerrSTig

      Rhaamit says the program was just a prototype foir how they intend to “keep order” after they buy enough votes to win again. Smile for the camera folks.
      BYW, it also creats union jobs.

      • phillysmart

        Win or lose Obamas people will riot in the streets be prepared

  • topdogone

    Its about time obama got something right only took 3 years

  • Contarian

    Just goes to show ya; Repub or Demo, they are all the same… lairs!

  • George Collins

    Yes, but “White House money”? That’s my money. Where did these minimum-wage AP reporters go to journalism school?

    • Rascal69

      Columbia, of course.

    • Shawn

      Home schooled? Journalism by mail?

      • 1marg

        Homeschooled? Are you crazy? These “journalists” are typical U.S. public school/U.S.college creations.

      • Lew

        No If they had been home schooled, they would not be ignorant.

  • Wag

    One of the most corrupt police forces in the nation. Union and mafia run.

  • radicaltruth

    Okay… let’s use some brainstorming and critical thinking for a moment – how can law enforcement proactively become aware of radical muslims who plan violence in the US when even the non-radical muslims will not report and identify such people to law enforcement because it violates their faith?

  • radicaltruth

    Obama should grow a pair and have a press conference telling Muslims they should report radicalized members to law enforcement because as members of the American society they have that responsibility – and it’s unethical to knowingly be silent when danger and violent threats are part of their own community.
    Of course he won’t because he’s irrationally politically correct to the core.

  • Jan

    Looks like everyone of the “commentors” have been drinking too much fluoride… SHAME NONE OF YOU HAVE EVER READ THE CONSTITUTION… Guess NONE of YOU remembers that NOW American citizens can be DETAINED INDEFINETLY WITHOUT A TRIAL through the act of oBOMBa signing of S. 1867 National Defense Authorization Act. WAKE UP… NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE…

    • Rascal69

      Constitution? What Constitution? You mean, we still have one?

  • john s

    I like. One and only one for Obama.

  • The Indicator

    I don’t know why the government would want to spy on Muslims, after all, as we can see from the way Muslims from all over the Islamic world reacted to the unintentional destruction of a few Korans–Muslims are “just like the rest of us”. Those PC, multiculturalist, America-hating Liberals were right all along. It is absolutely silly to show any concer whatsoever for the fact that Muslims are killing people in the name of Islam in every single country in which they live. Come on, all people are exactly alike everywhere . . . One World. And remember, we had Tomothy McVeigh, so just shut up with your islamophobia.

  • gary allan

    I have a question for all you Obama supporters, how do you know yoy aren’t being spied on?

    • gobnait

      Their donations are. Just yesterday, a news article revealed that the Obama reelection campaign is closely following previous donor’s current contributions. They send letters to those who haven’t donated this time around to determine WHY they haven’t made their donation yet?

      • 1marg

        Check Box A to donate to obama OR
        Check Box B for IRS audit.

  • Ahab

    Radicalized Muslims?? You guys are asleep at the switch. ANYONE who is not Muslim is infidel Per the Koran, they are to be killed, or enslaved and taxed. Those are the 2 options open to those who do not follow the “prophet”. THERE ARE NO OTHERS! We need to get over this “religion of peace” nonsense and see Muslims for the FREEDOM HATING people they are–

  • PinkFloydFan

    Serious the White House was behind this? Next you’ll read something I thought I’d never type:
    Good Job President Obama

    • 1marg

      Was this story intentionally leaked so that we would be duped into thinking there is a serious attempt to find potential terrorists?

      I, for one, am not buying it.

  • gary allan

    Maybe he can apologize to the Muslims.

    • phillysmart

      he will…just give him time…his allegiance is to the Muslims

  • Somedude68

    Words from the Qur’an:
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    “I shall terrorize the infidels. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them because they oppose Allah and His Apostle.”

    “If you gain mastery over them in battle, inflict such a defeat as would terrorize them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned.”

    “Truly, if the Hypocrites stir up sedition, if the agitators in the City do not desist, We shall urge you to go against them and set you over them. Then they will not be able to stay as your neighbors for any length of time. They shall have a curse on them. Whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain without mercy – a fierce slaughter – murdered, a horrible murdering.”

    “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    These are a few examples taken from the many Surah in the Qur’an that encourages and incites violence against those who do not believe or follow Islam.

    There are many more establishing a solid unwavering separatist viewpoint towards non-believers… i.e. the rest of the world.

    While followers of Islam tout peace… that peace is ONLY for Muslims. It does not extend to any others peoples or religions. In fact, children are taught to hate all other religions and peoples.

    Here is the result of following Islam, from the words of a 3 year old…

    The question is – How can Islam claim to be the religion of peace when it is proving otherwise?

    Keep profiling these haters and killers…. ESPECIALLY within US borders!

    • Somedude68

      If you are unafraid of the truth… watch “The Third Jihad”

  • Dancquill

    Obama’s IRS is auditing the Tea Parties and collecting the names of its “supporters”. He is also tracking “social media” comments for radicalization.. which likely includes potential terrorists and opposition such as Christians. Homeland Security has already shown its hand in this game. Get ready for some blowback people. BOHIC

    • 1marg

      A cross between Nixon and Hitler.

      Not a pretty picture.

  • phillysmart

    I finally can say I agree with some of the spending that Obama is doing…good to see that the authorities are checking out the most likely places of terrorist plots….much more likely than chasing after some old white supremicist

  • phillysmart

    Bottom line Muslims are the biggest threat to kill Americans…thats the facts…so why wouldn’t the authorities be dilligent…hey look if Grandma and kids have to get molested to fly and its an inconvenience that we need to deal with …than students can be monitored…if they don’t like than they can leave

  • phillysmart

    Finally a use of my tax $ I can support….my guess is Obama didn’t know about this program and will put a stop to it…he’s a muslim at heart

  • Queso

    They should not have been given the surveilence grant in the first place. If we fix the root of the problem everything else becomes an unimportant foot note.

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