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CIA report: No issue with spy agency's partnership with N.Y. police

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:35 PM EST, Fri December 23, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An internal CIA investigation looked at the agency's work with New York City Police
  • A news report said the agency helped police conduct covert surveillance on Muslims
  • The report raised questions about the legality of federal methods to counter terrorism

New York (CNN) -- The Central Intelligence Agency announced Friday that an internal report found no issue or evidence of wrong-doing in the spy agency's partnership with the New York City Police Department.

"The CIA inspector general has completed a review of the CIA's relationship with the NYPD and has found no violation of 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.'"

A news report this summer said the agency helped police conduct covert surveillance on Muslims living in New York, raising broader civil liberty questions about the legality of the methods and scope of federal efforts to counter terrorism.

The Associated Press reported that the NYPD Intelligence Division dispatched CIA-trained undercover officers into minority neighborhoods to gather intelligence on daily life in mosques, cafes, bars and bookstores.

It said police have used informers to monitor sermons during religious services and police officials keep tabs on clerics and gather intelligence on taxi cab drivers and food-cart vendors, who are often Muslim, in New York.

The New York Police Department blasted the report as "fictional."

"Even for a piece driven by anonymous NYPD critics, it shows that we're doing all we reasonably can to stop terrorists from killing more New Yorkers," said police spokesman Paul Browne.

The CIA has also previously said that suggestions that it engaged in domestic spying were "simply wrong."

The spy agency said the news report "mischaracterized the nature and scope" of the CIA's support for New York police.

An agency officer observing police efforts "would not be involved in law enforcement activities," said an official with knowledge of the proceedings.

"This senior officer's assignment is part of a program that gives him an opportunity to observe the best practices, leadership lessons, and management methodology of a large organization also involved in the fight against terrorism," said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

But New York-area Muslims and civil liberties advocates have called for investigations and hearings after the AP report was published in August.

The alleged program "is a waste of precious resources, and it raises serious constitutional concerns," said Udi Ofer of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group in the United States, referred to the alleged activities as a "potentially illegal program" to monitor the Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey.

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