Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, the Associated Press reports. The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.
The department sends undercover officers known as “rakers” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes, and nightclubs. Police use informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. Neither the City Council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given it more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on. “This is potentially illegal what they’re doing,” said Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, which asked the Justice Department to investigate.