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  • NYPD officers accessed Black Lives Matter activists’ texts, documents show

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    Exclusive: Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal details of how police posed as protesters amid unrest following the death of Eric Garner
    People protest after a grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner case.

    Undercover officers in the New York police department infiltrated small groups of Black Lives Matter activists and gained access to their text messages, according to newly released NYPD documents obtained by the Guardian.

    The records, produced in response to a freedom of information lawsuit led by New York law firm Stecklow & Thompson, provide the most detailed picture yet of the sweeping scope of NYPD surveillance during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. Lawyers said the new documents raised questions about NYPD compliance with city rules.

    The documents, mostly emails between undercover officers and other NYPD officials, follow other disclosures that the NYPD regularly filmed Black Lives Matter activists and sent undercover personnel to protests. The NYPD has not responded to the Guardian’s request for comment or interview.

    Emails show that undercover officers were able to pose as protesters even within small groups, giving them extensive access to details about protesters’ whereabouts and plans. In one email, an official notes that an undercover officer is embedded within a group of seven protesters on their way to Grand Central Station. This intimate access appears to have helped police pass as trusted organizers and extract information about demonstrations. In other emails, officers share the locations of individual protesters at particular times. The NYPD emails also include pictures of organizers’ group text exchanges with information about protests, suggesting that undercover officials were either trusted enough to be allowed to take photos of activists’ phones or were themselves members of a private planning group text.

    protesters text message
    Police obtained access to protesters’ text messages, the documents show. Photograph: NYPD/Screenshot/Scribd
    “That text loop was definitely just for organizers, I don’t know how that got out,” said Elsa Waithe, a Black Lives Matter organizer. “Someone had to have told someone how to get on it, probably trusting someone they had seen a few times in good faith. We clearly compromised ourselves.”

    Keegan Stephan, a regular attendee of the Grand Central protests in 2014 and 2015, said information about protesters’ whereabouts was limited to a small group of core organizers at that time. “I feel like the undercover was somebody who was or is very much a part of the group, and has access to information we only give to people we trust,” said Stephan, who has been assisting attorneys with a lawsuit to obtain the documents on behalf of plaintiff James Logue, a protester. “If you’re walking to Grand Central with a handful of people for an action, that’s much more than just showing up to a public demonstration – that sounds like a level of friendship.”

    Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant and professor at John Jay College, agreed that it would not be easy for an undercover officer to join a small group of protesters and hear their plans. “It would be pretty amazing that they would be able to get into the core group in such a short window of time,” said Giacalone. “This could have been going on a while before for these people to get so close to the inner circle.”

    The NYPD documents also included a handful of pictures and one short video taken at Grand Central Station demonstrations. Most are pictures of crowds milling about or taking part in demonstrations. In one picture of a small group of activists, the NYPD identifies an individual in a brown jacket as the “main protester”. These images of protesters are reminiscent of those taken by undercover transit police, who were also deployed to Black Lives Matter protests in Grand Central Station in 2015.

    nypd documents
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    An individual is identified as the ‘main protester’. Photograph: NYPD/Screenshot/Scribd
    Giacalone said this type of leadership identification was standard police practice at protests. “If you take out the biggest mouth, everybody just withers away, so you concentrate on the ones you believe are your organizers,” he said. “Once you identify that person, you can run computer checks on them to see if they have a warrant out or any summons failures, then you can drag them in before they go out to speak or rile up the crowd, as long as you have reasonable cause to do so.”

    Attorneys say the documents raise legal questions about whether the NYPD was acting in compliance with the department’s intelligence-gathering rules, known as the Handschu Guidelines. The guidelines, which are based on an ongoing decades-old class-action lawsuit, hold that the NYPD can begin formally investigating first amendment activity “when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that an unlawful act has been, is being, or will be committed” and if the police surveillance plan has been authorized by a committee known as the Handschu Authority. (That committee was exclusively staffed by NYPD officials at the time.) However, according to the guidelines, before launching a formal investigation, the NYPD can also conduct investigative work such as “checking of leads” and “preliminary inquiries” with even lower standards of suspicion.

    Michael Price, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, said it was difficult to know whether NYPD’s undercover surveillance operations crossed the line, as the documents did not make clear what, if any, stage of investigation the police were in at the time of the operations. But he said the department’s retention of pictures and video raised questions, since police are not allowed to retain information about public events unless it relates to unlawful activity.

    “So my question would be: what was the unlawful activity that police had reason to suspect here?” said Price. “It doesn’t appear that there was any criminal behavior they were talking about in the emails. Most references are to protesters being peaceful, so I would be very concerned if they were hinging their whole investigation on civil disobedience, such as unpermitted protests or blocking of pedestrians.”

    Throughout the emails, the NYPD’s undercover sources provide little indication of any unlawful activity, frequently characterizing demonstrators as peaceful and orderly with only one mention of a single arrest.

    “The documents uniformly show no crime occurring, but NYPD had undercovers inside the protests for months on end as if they were al-Qaida,” said David Thompson, an attorney of Stecklow & Thompson, who helped sue for the records.

    Giacalone argued that police could have easily come up with a legal justification to initiate surveillance, especially if such operations occurred after the shooting of two NYPD officers in December of 2014 (all dates in the NYPD’s email communications were redacted). But he noted that such investigative activities would be harder to justify if officers were not directly observing signs of unlawful activity.

    “If they’re not talking about any crimes being committed, they’re going to have a difficult time defending this. It may end up in another one of these lawsuits,” said Giacalone. “Some may say this is good police work, fine, but good police work or not, we have rules against this kind of thing in New York.”

    Attorneys have already filed a petition charging that the NYPD may have failed to produce all of its surveillance records. But for some protesters, the damage has already been done.

    “In the first couple of months, we had a lot of people in and out of the group, some because they didn’t fit our style but others because of the whispers that they were undercovers,” recalled Waithe. “Whether it was real or perceived, that was the most debilitating part for me, the whispers … It’s really hard to organize when you can’t trust each other.”

    George Joseph in New York
    Tuesday 4 April 2017 11.00 BST Last modified on Tuesday 4 April 2017 22.00 BST
    Find this story at 4 April 2017

    © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

    Former FBI Agent: NYPD’s Muslim-Spying Demographics Unit Was Almost Completely Useless (2014)

    from the holds-several-‘most-rights-violated’-trophies,-however dept

    Certain demographics are desirable. 18-34? Taste-makers and early adopters. 35-49? Money. Muslim and New York City resident? Being a member of this group meant (until recently) having First Amendment-protected activities being closely scrutinized by the NYPD’s now-defunct “Demographics Unit.”

    This special unit was recently disbanded, roughly a decade after it should have been, thanks to a new mayor and a new police commissioner. The unit was put together by a former CIA officer who used the post-9/11 attack climate to push for expansive surveillance of the city’s Muslim population, including designating entire mosques as terrorist-related entities. Despite all the extra attention being paid to Muslims, not a single useful investigation resulted from this unit’s work.

    The surveillance being done by this unit so pervasively subverted civil liberties protections that not even the CIA could access the NYPD’s files without breaking its internal rules. The same goes for the FBI, which has long partnered with the NYPD in its counter-terrorism efforts. Don Borelli, a former FBI agent, has written a piece for the New York Daily News, detailing why police commissioner Bill Bratton was right to disband the Demographics Unit.
    Together, we were able to stop many threats — and save many lives — including a serious plot against the subways from Najibullah Zazi, an ethnic Afghan who grew up in Queens and went on to become an Al Qaeda operative.

    Interestingly enough, the NYPD demographics unit had detailed files on Zazi’s neighborhood in Flushing during the period in which he was becoming radicalized. It kept files on businesses and visited coffee shops believed to be hangouts for potential terrorists. The unit even visited the travel agency where Zazi bought his ticket to travel to Afghanistan for terrorism training.

    So why wasn’t Zazi identified until he was driving to New York from Denver to blow up the subway? Because the program was ineffective. The mission of the demographics unit was to spot the terrorists in the haystack, but again and again it failed to do so.
    All haystack, no needle, like so many other surveillance programs. The unit overwhelmed itself in useless data, keeping it from finding what it needed when it mattered most. These data swamps built by investigative agencies have proven to be more dangerous than old-fashioned police work.
    During my time with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I read many reports derived from investigations conducted by the NYPD Intelligence Division, which may well have relied on the demographics unit’s work. I was presented with many interesting facts about where people were attending Friday prayers and who belonged to various Muslim student associations.

    But rarely did I learn anything I didn’t already know through traditional investigations, much less anything that would have led me to open a terrorism investigation.
    Adding to the mess here is the NYPD’s twisted relationship with the FBI. While it clearly enjoys access to G-men and their tools, former police chief Ray Kelly often made it clear that his officers did superior work and that the FBI’s production of information was too slow to be useful. Of course, FBI agents have said the same thing about the NYPD, particularly in the information department, where the sharing was usually a one-way street that flowed out of the FBI and into the NYPD’s hands.

    Beyond the antagonistic relationship is the Demographic Unit itself — its own worst enemy. The former CIA officer who had a local judge rewrite guidelines to give the NYPD unprecedented permission for pervasive surveillance also managed to ensure that most info flowing back upstream to the FBI ended up being routed directly into the trash can.
    Moreover, I wound up shredding some of these reports because they had no investigative value and, in my opinion, did not belong in any FBI file because they solely reported on what was First Amendment-protected activity.
    Much like other failures to stop terrorist activity, the problems here were communication (too little) and information (too much). As Borelli notes, in his experience, it’s been more useful to build trust than to endlessly spy, something the NYPD really hasn’t made much effort to foster over the years. But its failure to do so means it has buried itself in data and alienated those who could bring an inside perspective. A decade’s worth of spying resulted in nothing but violated rights.

    by Tim Cushing
    Mon, Apr 28th 2014 4:05pm

    Find this story at 28 April 2014

    From Mosques to Soccer Leagues: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spy Unit Targeting Muslims, Activists

    Since 9/11, the New York City Police Department has established an intelligence operation that in some ways has been even more aggressive than the National Security Agency. At its core is a spying operation targeting Arab- and Muslim-Americans where they live, work and pray. The NYPD’s “Demographics Unit,” as it was known until 2010, has secretly infiltrated Muslim student groups, sent informants into mosques, eavesdropped on conversations in restaurants, barber shops and gyms, and built a vast database of information. The program was established with help from the CIA, which is barred from domestic spying. Just last month, it emerged the NYPD has labeled at least 50 Muslim organizations, including a dozen mosques, as terrorist groups. This has allowed them to carry out what are called “Terrorism Enterprise Investigations,” sending undercover informants into mosques to spy on worshipers and make secret recordings. We’re joined by the Pulitzer-winning duo who exposed the NYPD’s spy program, Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, co-authors of the new book, “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.” We’re also joined by Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, which was among the groups targeted by the NYPD.

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    AARON MATÉ: Yes, well, it’s been 12 years since the 9/11 attacks, but only now is a full picture emerging of what could be one of its most controversial legacies. In the aftermath of 9/11, the New York City Police Department established an intelligence operation that in some ways has even been even more aggressive than the National Security Agency. At its core, a spying operation targeting Muslim Americans, where they live, work, and pray. The NYPD’s demographics unit, as it was known until 2010, has a secretly infiltrated Muslim student groups, sent informants into mosques, eavesdropped on conversations and restaurants, barber shops, and gyms, and built a vast database of information on Muslim Americans. The program was established with help from the CIA, which is barred from spying on Americans.

    AMY GOODMAN: Just last month, it emerged that the NYPD has labeled at least 50 Muslim organizations including a dozen mosques as terrorist groups. This has allowed them to carry out what are called terrorism enterprise investigations, sending undercover informants into mosques to spy on worshipers and make secret recordings. That news came just weeks after a group of Muslim Americans filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD’s spy program, alleging what they call unconstitutional religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance. At a news conference, plaintiff Asad Dandia described his run-in with the man who turned out to be a police informant.

    ASAD DANDIA: In March of 2012, I was approached by a 19-year-old man. He came to me telling me that he was looking for spirituality, and that he was looking to change his ways. He said he had a very dark past and wanted to be a better practicing Muslim. So, I figured what better way to have him perform his obligations than to join this organization? In October of 2012 he released a public statement saying he was an informant for the NYPD. When I found out, I had a whole mixture of feelings. Number one, I was terrified and I was afraid for my family, especially my younger sisters who were exposed to all of this. I felt betrayed and hurt because someone I took in as a friend and brother was lying to me.

    AARON MATÉ: That’s Asad Dandia, one of the plaintiffs in the suit by Muslim Americans against the NYPD for spying. Arguments in the case began last week. While the spy program has been intrusive, it has also been ineffective. The NYPD has even admitted that the demographics unit failed to yield a single terrorism investigation or even a single lead. In a deposition last year, the commanding officer of the intelligence division, assistant NYPD chief, Thomas Galati, said “I could tell you that I have never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report and I’m here since 2006. I don’t recall other ones prior to my arrival.”

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, the NYPD spy program was first exposed in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series by the Associated Press. Two lead reporters on the story have just come out the new book that expands on their ground breaking reporting. Their book is called, “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.” Co-authors Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman join us here in New York. They shared the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Matt, lay it out. Lay out this book for us. In a nutshell, how you got on this story, and what you found.

    MATT APPUZO: Sure, well, our book really goes a lot deeper and a lot broader than we were able to do even in all the many stories we wrote for the AP. What we really focused on is how in the aftermath of 9/11, about how the NYPD working hand-in-hand with the CIA, built an intelligence apparatus that focuses on American citizens like no other police department in the country. This active-duty CIA officer and a retired CIA officer built in apparatus by which, you know, a sort of army of informants is out there and we have these demographics officers who their job is just to hang out in neighborhoods and listen for what people are talking about.

    Some of what we have seen in these files, it’s a file says, we saw two men speaking at a cafe and they were talking about what they thought about the president’s state of the union address, and here’s what they thought. What do they think about drones, what do they think about foreign policy, what do they think about American policies toward civil liberties, you know, TSA. Are we too discriminatory against Muslims? All the stuff ends up in police files and their justification is, we need to know what the sentiment of these communities are so we can look for hotspots.

    AARON MATÉ: Adam, talk to us about how this plays out. So, you have NYPD Commissioner, Ray Kelly, working with David Cohen from the CIA, and they set out to create basically a map of all New York’s ethnic neighborhoods?

    ADAM GOLDMAN: Yeah, that’s right, I mean, that is what the demographics unit was doing. They wanted to literally map the human terrain of the five boroughs of New York. And they went beyond too, they went into Newark, they went into other places as well; Newark, New Jersey. So, they had this fear after 9/11, and they looked out into the Queens and Brooklyn and these other places where there were a lot of Muslim Americans and thought, we don’t know much about these communities and they looked, as an example, at people like Mohammed Atta, who was one of the 9/11 hijackers. Mohammed Atta had radicalized, he had grown more religious, and he was — he had given off the signals in front of the community, and they wanted to be in the communities in New York, so if there is anyone like Mohammed Atta, in fact anybody who was radicalizing they would have listening posts. They would have eyes and ears in the community to pick up on that.

    AMY GOODMAN: One of the things you write about is how the undercover officers would go to the best Arab food restaurants, not coming up with leads, but because the food was good and just “spy” there.

    ADAM GOLDMAN: We found a lot that these plainclothes officers working with the demographics unit were gravitating toward the better restaurants. There is a bakery, the Damascus Bakery in Brooklyn that serves excellent pastries. There is a kebab house in Flushing, Queens that serves excellent kebab. And what the commanding officer in charge of the demographics unit started to see was there were many reports being filed from similar locations. And how do spend you $40 at the pastry shop? And so, eventually, he determined they were going there, following these reports, simply because the food was good.

    AMY GOODMAN: Matt Appuzo, talk about the main players here. Talk about Larry Sanchez, talk about David Cohen who’d come from the CIA and went to the NYPD.

    MATT APPUZO: Sure, Ray Kelly comes on board as police commissioner after 9/11, and says, look, we can’t rely solely on the federal government. And I think really smartly said, we can’t do business as usual. We need to start developing our own intelligence and have a better sense of what is going on in the city. So, the guy he hired to do that is a man named Dave Cohen, who we profile really deeply in the book, who made his career at the CIA, rose to the level of the deputy director for operations, basically a nation’s top spy.

    So, he retired as the head of the clandestine service. And he was basically recruited out of retirement to start what is, basically a mini-CIA at the NYPD. One of Cohen’s first things, is he then calls down to the CIA and says, hey, I need an active-duty guy who can be my right-hand man. George tenet, the director of the CIA, sends Larry Sanchez to New York. And Larry is this very likable guy, skydiver, scuba diver, a guy’s guy, and he’s active duty, so he’s got a blue CIA badge. So, he can start the morning — early morning at the CIA station in New York and then kind of go over to the NYPD and he is directing domestic operations for NYPD and he is telling officers how to do collection or where to focus their efforts. And he really was the architect of the demographics unit. So, this guy, active-duty for the CIA, was really the intellectual father of the demographics unit.

    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We are speaking with the prize-winning reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, who have written the book, “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.” We will be back with them in a moment.


    AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, reporters for the Associated Press, co-authors of the brand-new book, “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.” We are also joined by Linda Sarsour. She is here in New York City, a leading Arab-American activist with the Arab American Association of New York, a national network for Arab American communities. I’m Amy Goodman with Aaron Maté.

    AARON MATÉ: Well, before break, we were talking about Larry Sanchez who came to the NYPD from the CIA. Let’s turn to a part of a 2007 hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs that looked at the NYPD’s counterterrorism efforts. This is, then Senator, Joe Lieberman questioning New York City Assistant Police Commissioner Larry Sanchez, the analyst who came to the NYPD from the CIA.

    JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: I’m paraphrasing, but I think you said that the aim of this investigation and of the NYPD was not just to prevent terrorist attacks, obviously, post-9/11 in New York City, but to try to prevent — understand and then prevent the radicalization that leads to terrorist attacks. So, in the end of it, what are the steps that you come away with that you feel in this very usual area, unremarkable people, not on the screen of law enforcement — how do you begin to try to prevent the radicalization that leads to terrorism?

    LARRY SANCHEZ: Let me try to answer this way; the key to it was, first, to understand it, and to start appreciating what most people would say would be noncriminal, would be innocuous, looking at behaviors that could easily be argued in a western democracy, especially in the United States, to be protected by First and Fourth Amendment rights, but not to look at them in a vacuum, but to look across to them as potential precursors to terrorism. New York City, of course, has created its own methods to be able to understand them better, to be able to identify them and to be able to make judgment calls if these are things that we need to worry about.

    AARON MATÉ: That’s Larry Sanchez, testifying in 2007. Matt Apuzzo?

    MATT APPUZO: Adam and I have watched that clip and read the transcript, I don’t know, dozens of times, and one of our great regrets is that this happened in 2007 and nobody, and including us, said, hey, that guy just got up and said stuff that is protected by the First Amendment shouldn’t be viewed as such and should be viewed as potential precursor to terrorism and that the NYPD has these sort of unspecified methods to decide how to ferret that out. I kind of watch that now, and I remember when that happened, and now I’m kind of like, how the heck did I not — how did the reporter in me not say, geez, well what are these methods? Why the heck did it take four years before…? You know, Adam and I look back now and we’re like, jeez, they told us they were doing this stuff, they told us — they laid it all out there. And why weren’t we as journalists, as a public, more skeptical and why weren’t we willing to ask more questions?

    AMY GOODMAN: The FBI, Adam Goldman, and the NYPD were also competing with each other, so much so they were going to sue each other. Can you explain what was happening?

    ADAM GOLDMAN: Well, there was enormous friction between the FBI and the NYPD, mainly the NYPD intelligence division. And these two outfits would sometimes not work in harmony. Mainly because Dave Cohen thought that the intelligence division and his detectives should go on their own. He didn’t want to be part of the part of what they called group think. So, they said, look, we’ll go out and we’re going to investigate and if we find something, we’;ll bring it to you. But, the problem with doing that is that, sometimes these investigations were in late stages and the FBI had concerns about how they had developed these cases. And it flared up in the newspaper. And in the end, the FBI felt like, look, you just can’t go out and do your own thing. We’re going to stop this, we got to work as a team and that is how you build — cooperation is how you build stronger cases.

    AARON MATÉ: Matt, and the spying of course, also extended beyond the Muslim community. There’s reports in your book about spying on left-wing activists, on bicycle protests?

    MATT APPUZO: Yeah, so, everybody remembers the bombing of the Times Square recruiting station. The pipe bomb, thankfully didn’t injure injure anyone, but it was 3:00 in the morning and blew out a window. Well, in the aftermath of that, the NYPD, and we’ve seen this in the files, the NYPD did an investigation were they said, you know, we have identified this blog that posts links to protests, news stories about protests and pictures of protests all around the world, confrontations, anarchist protests, radical protests, people throwing people throwing Molotov cocktails. That’s what this blog does, and they said, boy, that blog had a link up to a Fox news story about the Times Square bombing within three hours. And to the NYPD, the three hours seemed awfully quick. And so, they said, well, maybe that suggests that the guy who runs the blog knew in advance. And it turns out that at one point years earlier, one of the guys who ran the blog, this guy named Dennis Burke, he had ties to Critical Mass, the guys who ride the bikes, and Time’s Up New York, the protest group in New York City.

    AMY GOODMAN: And friends of Brad Will.

    MATT APPUZO: And friends of Brad Will, the group that wants to get to the bottom of the death of American journalists in Mexico. So, they actually open an investigation based on those facts. They open an investigation not only into Burke, but also into his associates in these other groups. And so, they infiltrated the Times Up guys, the Critical Mass guys, the Friends of Brad Will. They actually sent an undercover officer as part of this investigation out to the People’s Summit in New Orleans, which is a group of sort of anti-globalization groups, and the NYPD was there. Because of this investigation into the bombing, they actually put into the files, people who were organized — labor organizing for nannies, people who were talking about the Palestinian conflict with the Israelis, people who are writing newsletters from, sort of, left-wing organizations, this stuff that had no connection — nobody believed there was any connection to the bombing, but it just shows you how this stuff spirals away from its central focus.

    AMY GOODMAN: Linda Sarsour, can you talk about, as your with the Arab-American Association of New York, how the investigations that the NYPD was conducting that Adam and Matt are describing, affected you and your community?

    LINDA SARSOUR: So, Adam and Matt basically confirmed everything that our community already knew was happening, at least since immediately after 9/11. And the terrorist enterprise investigations that you heard also included, I believe, my organization. And what the NYPD wanted to do to my organization, they clearly lay this out in a secret document, they wanted to recruit a confidential informant to sit on my board. So, not only were they creating listening posts and going into our restaurants, coming to our events, coming — acting as clients in our organization, they wanted to actually have someone who would be a deciding figure on my board, have access donors, have access to information, access to financial information, and I think that we keep learning that the program is just more outrageous. And what it does is it creates psychological warfare in our community.

    How am I supposed to know if the NYPD was successful in that endeavor? That’s number one. Number two is, the community, right now, is in a position where, how do we even know the guy next to us that’s praying at the mosque or the guy at the restaurant that’s like trying to open a conversation with us about something that is happening in Egypt, for example, and for those people who know, Arabs, particularly, we love to talk about politics. And a lot of our families came to the United States so we could have a place to practice our religion freely, to have our own political views, and now that we know that the NYPD wants to hear what our sentiment is, people probably don’t want to share their sentiment.

    The most disturbing of all is our Muslim student association who are calling us to consult about how political should their events be. Now, when I was in college, I wanted my events to be as political as possible. And if they weren’t, I wanted to figure out how to make them controversial. And the fact that our students feel that they can’t do that because there are going to be NYPD informants, because they can be taken out of context and because they think that something like what happened to Fahad Hashmi is going to happen to them, I think it is a valid concern.

    So, I’m a New Yorker and I hope others are outraged to know that the New York Police Department is spying on innocent Americans in their neighborhood. The last point that I want to make is that these terrorist investigations, what happens is, is that if they open one, anyone who comes into that facility that’s under investigation is subject to that investigation. So, if my organization has this terrorist enterprise investigation, that means every client, every staff member, every family member, every vendor that we work with is subject to this investigation by the New York Police Department.

    AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about the NYPD Soccer League.

    LINDA SARSOUR: A program that the NYPD touts as a community outreach program, and something we that believed as a community we were involved in because we wanted to get kids off the street, we wanted kids to play sports and it was organized sports competition between kids from different boroughs. It was fun. We joined, as the Arab American Association of New York. We had a team, Brooklyn United. In 2009 we beat the Turks from Queens, and it was great, and it was fun, and we have a huge trophy from the New York Police Department. What we learned later learned through secret documents is that the New York Police Department was using a sports league — now imagine that your child is part of this league and is being spied on by the New York Police Department. And what the New York Police Department did is they actually mapped out for you two different documents. One was, where did the South Asians play cricket and watch cricket, and where did the Arabs play soccer and watch soccer? For those of you who know soccer, Arabs are not the only ones that play soccer. Definitely not in New York City anyway.

    So, I feel the information just gets more outrageous that even something as simple as sports, as playing soccer, is something that is under the terrain of the New York Police Department, that our kids were subject to intelligence gathering and spying by the New York Police Department when all they wanted to do was beat some people or some other kids in another borough. And I think our kids, right now, you know, their families are like what’s this. How am I supposed to explain to them that I didn’t know, that I was not — that I had no intention of subjecting their children to intelligence gathering by the New York Police Department? And so, I personally get put in a situation that Commissioner Kelly and his people put us in. And actually the Arab officers who worked in the Community Affairs Department, I don’t know if they knew, but if they did know, shame on them for allowing us to be a part of something where they knew had ultimate if reasons.

    AARON MATÉ: Now, Linda, hear in New York, there is obviously a lot of public protest against stop-and-frisk. How has it been to organize resistance to this spying on your community? What are you finding in terms of the public’s perception to this program?

    LINDA SARSOUR: In New York right now, and I think in the country as a whole, I think that you’ll find it is more likely for people to say, oh, stopping 685,000 blacks and Latino young people, that’s a little racist, you know, that’s kind of a little too much. I think we’re finding more people, and I’m part of the stop-and-frisk movement as a person who is not black or Latino. So, I’ve seen that sentiment. But, with the spying, it has been hard to get people to understand that it is the same thing. They are both discriminatory policies that target communities of color. No matter what way somebody tries to explain it to me.

    The problem with our movement is that it’s framed in the sense of personal security, so people are like, well, if you are not doing anything wrong, what’s the problem? What’s the inconvenience of some guy who listens to, like, your conversations. And I think that’s where the fundamental principles of who we are as Americans and what our rights are, right to privacy — I shouldn’t have to worry about working in an organization that — that’s infiltrated by the New York Police Department. I hope no one else has to worry about that. But, it’s been a little difficult for us to organize around this, but continue to do so.

    AMY GOODMAN: Speaking to MSNBC last month, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly responded to the report by our guests Matt Appuzo and Adam Goldman that the NYPD has labeled mosques as terrorist organizations. Kelly insisted the NYPD’s operations are legal.

    RAYMOND KELLY: I haven’t seen the story, but they’re hyping a book coming out next week. Actually, the book is based on a compilation of about 50 articles that two AP reporters did on the department. It’s a reflection of the articles and the book will be a fair amount of fiction, it will be half-truths, it will be lots of quotes from unnamed sources. And our sin is to have the temerity, the chutzpah, to go into the federal government’s territory of counter-terrorism and trying to protect the city by supplementing what the federal government has done.

    JOE SCARBOROUGH: You do agree that entire mosques should not be labeled terrorist organizations, right?

    RAYMOND KELLY: Absolutely, of course, of course. And again, we do according to law, what we are investigating, and how we investigated is now pursuant to a federal judge’s direction.

    AMY GOODMAN: That’s New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is reportedly one of the people being considered to head the Department of Homeland Security. Adam Goldman, there was a lot there, accusations that your reports are fiction and based on unnamed sources. Go ahead.

    ADAM GOLDMAN: Well, one of the things we tried to do with this book that the NYPD doesn’t do is we tried to be incredibly transparent. If Ray Kelly gets the chance, he can read the book, he’ll find that many people spoke on record about what the NYPD was doing. Named individuals, including Hector Berdecia who ran the demographics unit. Another thing we tried to do is end note all these secret documents that were leaked to us so the reader themselves can go and look at the end note and then go to our website, enemieswithinbook.com, and read the secret files them self, and come to their own conclusions. So we lay all that out and in an effort to be completely transparent. The book is, as The Wall Street Journal said, assiduously reported. The other point I’d like to make about Ray’s comments is that he won’t engage with us on the book and he’s never engaged with us either on the book or our reporting. And Matt and I went to great lengths in the book to make a good case for why the NYPD felt like they needed these programs in the aftermath of 9/11.

    AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the head of the demographics unit who then came to be completely disturbed about what his unit was doing.

    ADAM GOLDMAN: Yeah, he was guy, he was a legendary narcotics detective. I mean, he was taking down drug dealers, taking guns off the streets. He was also a military reservist.

    AMY GOODMAN: His name?
    >> Hector Berdecia. And after 9/11, he spent time in Iraq and he was there post-invasion. And he came back to New York and they offered him this job to run this secretive unit that he was unfamiliar with. And he took this job. And he felt that, you know, hey, there are bad guys in New York, there are bad guys in New York, there’s Al Qaeda in New York, and he believed it. He, himself, had said himself he sort of drank the Kool-Aid. As he went on running this unit, he began to get frustrated and he began to see that he had really talented detectives, right, with really great language skills, right, and they weren’t making any cases. It was just and effective way — it was more about effectiveness, is this an effective way to use resources of talented police investigators? These were guys who are used to putting bad guys in jail, right? Taking drugs off the street, taking guns off the streets. Guns kill people. And he, instead, was writing intelligence reports about what people think of the state of the union address. And eventually, I think he got frustrated and disillusioned with the program.

    AARON MATÉ: Matt, can you talk about the issue of oversight? First of all, this raises a lot of civil rights issues. Has there been a response from White House or from the Justice Department? And then also talk about what kind of oversight exists here in the city.

    AMY GOODMAN: Right, and what — is this happening now?

    MATT APPUZO: Everything that we talk about in the book, with the exception of a few sort of ancillary programs, but the core of the book, to our knowledge, is still happening now. Fascinating the issue of oversight, the NYPD gets money from the City Council every year, obviously, the City Council never held a hearing to actually look into the intelligence division’s programs. They have never been subjected to an audit. The intelligence division gets money from the White House under a drug trafficking grant. The White House says, we don’t have any — we don’t know what the money is used for. You can’t hold us to account with what the NYPD does with our money. Congress has funded these programs. They don’t know, they’re not equipped to know, they don’t ask. Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have spent $1 billion, $2 billion at the NYPD since 9/11. They say they don’t know what goes on, and the way the grants are set up they they don’t have the ability to know.

    There is essentially, no outside oversight at the NYPD intelligence division. The programs are opened in house. They don’t have to be approved by a judge, they don’t have to be approved by a prosecutor. Kelly likes to talk about we have all the federal prosecutors and the district attorney, but they don’t actually decide when the Intel division can open the case. So there isn’t the kind of outside review that you would see at the CIA or the FBI. And, you know what, from our standpoint, the lack of transparency, the fact this was all done in secret with no public airing, was really what drove us to write this book, because you can’t — people can’t give their informed consent to a program that they don’t know exists, they don’t know what they’re giving up, they don’t know what they’re getting in exchange.

    AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, as we come to the end of this conversation, Najibullah Zazi, of course, a key figure in your book?

    MATT APPUZO: The book, in its essence, is a thriller book, I mean, it’s a chase. This is essentially 48 hours inside New York City as the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States tries to unravel the most serious Al Qaeda plot since 9/11, inside the United States, three young men led by Najibullah Zazi, with a bomb, bearing down on the New York City subways, had this been successful, it would caused hundreds if not thousands of fatalities. And we take a real hard look, a real critical look — or we think a thorough look, at what works and what doesn’t. And what we found is at every opportunity, that Zazi is interacts with these intelligence programs of the NYPD Intelligence Division, the [Unintelligible].

    AARON MATÉ: They were in his neighborhood.

    MATT APPUZO: They were in his neighborhood, they were in his mosque, they had turned his Imam into a cooporative, they had an undercover in his mosque, they were in his co-conspirator student group, they were in all the restaurants in his neighborhood, they were in the travel agency where he bought tickets to go to Pakistan — the train. This was not a failure of resources and manpower.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, what happened?

    MATT APPUZO: Well, they didn’t — they missed him. Well, you have to read the book to find out how they stop him, come on. The subways don’t blow up, so the real rush is good collaboration, good cooperation is what saves the day.

    AMY GOODMAN: And Adam, what most surprised you in doing this series of articles? You did scores of articles, and of course, the book is more than the compilation of the articles.

    ADAM GOLDMAN: I think what most surprised us is while we were doing the series that led to the Pulitzer, we knew they were in the mosques and we knew they had informants in the mosques, they had under covers in the mosques. And Ray said, well, we’re just following leads, and this is all legal. That’s been Ray’s — that’s Ray’s phrase, it’s all legal. And we didn’t really didn’t understand how is this all legal. How can you just be a mosque?

    AMY GOODMAN: People might be surprised that the CIA is involved in local surveillance.

    ADAM GOLDMAN: Right, right. Then while we were reporting at the book we obtained documents this is how they were doing it. We learned about the terrorism enterprise investigation. And so, now, holistically, we understood, oh, right, so, they open this investigation on sometimes reed-thin suspicions and they use that to gather their intelligence on these mosques — the leadership of the mosques for years and years and years and years. They never made a terrorism enterprise case. And by designating the mosque a terrorism enterprise, they could send in their informants and undercovers, you now, they send in people with spy gadgets, listening devices in their watches and their [] and that was really extraordinary. I want to make a point —- one last point about Ray, and why we make the -—

    AMY GOODMAN: Ray Kelly, the Commissioner.

    ADAM GOLDMAN: Ray Kelly, and why we wrote this book. We’re not questioning Ray Kelly’s patriotism, and we’re not questioning his authority as Police Chief to keep this city better. I guess what we’re doing is, and maybe to use one of Ray’s words, is it’s chutzpah. I guess we have the chutzpah to ask questions about what the police department is doing and whether these tactics work.

    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, but we will continue to talk to you as you continue to uncover what is taking place. I want to thank you both for being with us, and congratulations on your Pulitzer for your series of articles. The new book is, “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.” Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman. And thank you so much, Linda Sarsour; Arab American Association of New York and the National Network for Arab American Communities. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, we look at a terrorist attack that occurred 50 years ago this past Sunday. It was September 15, 1963, and it happened in the Birmingham Baptist Church. Four little girls were the fatalities. We’re going to speak to the fifth who did not die, but lost her eye. We’ll go to Birmingham, Alabama. Stay with us.

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    Find this story at 17 September 2013

    The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

    NYPD secrets: How the cops launched a spy shop to rival CIA; After 9/11, the NYPD wanted an intelligence unit to investigate threats to the city. This is how it began

    Adapted from “Enemies Within”

    Note: After a long career in Washington, David Cohen, a former CIA official, was, according to the authors, “one of most unpopular and divisive figures in modern CIA history.”

    [CIA Director George] Tenet sent Cohen packing for New York, a plum pre-retirement assignment that made him the CIA’s primary liaison with Wall Street titans and captains of industry. After three decades in Washington, he had become one of the most unpopular and divisive figures in modern CIA history. He left feeling that the agency was hamstrung by the people overseeing it. The White House micromanaged operations, slowing down everything. And Congress used its oversight authority to score political points. The CIA was stuck in the middle, an impossible position.

    Now [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly was offering a chance to start something new in the New York Police Department, without any of the bureaucratic hand-wringing or political meddling. The World Trade Center attacks had changed the world. Cohen was being given an opportunity to change policing in response.

    He didn’t need a couple days to think about it. He called Kelly back two hours later and took the job.

    [Mayor] Bloomberg and Kelly introduced Cohen as the deputy commissioner for intelligence at a city hall press conference on January 24, 2002. Cohen spoke for just two minutes, mostly to praise the NYPD. He had been raised in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood, and though he’d been gone for decades, he still spoke with a heavy accent.

    “We need to understand what these threats are, what form they take, where they’re coming from, and who’s responsible,” Cohen said.

    The new deputy commissioner offered no specifics about what he had planned. Weeks before his sixtieth birthday, he even declined to give his age, telling reporters only that he was between twenty-eight and seventy. The brief remarks from behind the lectern would amount to one of Cohen’s longest media appearances ever.

    “I look forward to just getting on with the job,” he said.

    Cohen’s appointment was not front-page news. The New York Times put the story on page B3. The Daily News ran a 165-word brief on page 34. It was four months after 9/11, and the country was focused on doing whatever it took to prevent another attack. Nobody questioned the wisdom of taking someone trained to break the laws of foreign nations and putting him in a department responsible for upholding the rule of law. Nobody even checked out Cohen’s hand-prepared résumé, which said he had a master’s degree in international relations from Boston University. In fact, his degree was in government.15 The misstatement itself was inconsequential. That it went entirely unquestioned was indicative of the lack of media scrutiny Cohen could expect in his new job.

    It didn’t take him long to realize that he was not walking back into the CIA. The NYPD had an intelligence division, but in name only. Working primarily out of the waterfront offices of the old Brooklyn Army Terminal, across the Hudson River, facing New Jersey, the detectives focused on drugs and gangs. They were in no way prepared to detect and disrupt a terrorist plot before it could be carried out. Mostly, they were known as the glorified chauffeurs who drove visiting dignitaries around the city.

    Cohen knew that more was possible.

    Force of will alone, however, would not transform a moribund division into something capable of stopping a terrorist attack. If Cohen wanted to remake the NYPD into a real intelligence service, there were four men—four graying hippies—standing in his way.

    * * *

    Martin Stolar first began hearing stories about the NYPD Intelligence Division in 1970 while working as a young lawyer for the New York Law Commune. A recently formed law firm for leftists, hippies, radicals, and activists, the commune operated entirely by consensus. It didn’t take a case unless everyone agreed. They saw themselves as part of the New Left, lawyers who didn’t merely represent their clients but who fully embraced their politics and were part of their struggle. They represented Columbia University students who’d taken over campus buildings during a protest in 1968. They stood beside members of the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, and other radical groups, and activists such as Abbie Hoffman. And they never, ever, represented landlords in disputes with tenants.

    It was a new way of thinking about the law. The firm pooled all its fees and then paid one another based on need, not ability or performance. Operating out of a converted loft in Greenwich Village, the lawyers paid the bills thanks to well-to-do parents who hired them to keep their sons out of Vietnam. But about half their time was dedicated to political, nonpaying clients.

    Every now and again, one of the lawyers would come across something—a news clipping, a document, or a strong hunch—that suggested the NYPD was infiltrating activist groups and building dossiers on protesters. When they did, they’d add it to a plain manila folder, as something to revisit.

    Stolar had no problem questioning government authority. In 1969 he applied for admission to the bar in Ohio, where he was an antipoverty volunteer. When asked if he’d ever been “a member of any organization which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force,” Stolar refused to answer. Nor would he answer when asked to list every club or organization he’d ever joined. The questions were holdovers from the Red Scare days of the 1950s. Stolar, a liberal New York lawyer, would have none of it. He took his case to the United States Supreme Court, which, in 1971, declared such questions unconstitutional. “[W]e can see no legitimate state interest which is served by a question which sweeps so broadly into areas of belief and association protected against government invasion,” Justice Hugo Black wrote.

    Stolar had moved back to New York by then and never bothered to return to Ohio to take the bar exam. He’d proven his point.

    In 1971 he was among the many lawyers working on the Panther 21 case, the trial of Black Panther Party members accused of conspiring to bomb police stations, businesses, and public buildings. While preparing their defense, the Law Commune attorneys came across something unusual: The case against the Panthers was built largely on the testimony of some of the earliest members of the New York chapter of the Black Panthers. There was Gene Roberts, a former security guard for Malcolm X who was present on February 21, 1965, when the Nation of Islam leader was assassinated in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. There was Ralph White, the head of the Panther unit in the Bronx who’d once represented the entire New York chapter at a black power conference in Philadelphia. And there was Carlos Ashwood, who’d sold Panther literature in Harlem.

    They were founding fathers of the New York Panthers. And all three, it turned out, were undercover detectives. The NYPD had essentially set up the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party and built files on everyone who signed up.

    That convinced Stolar that something had to be done with his manila folder. He called another young lawyer, Jethro Eisenstein, who taught at New York University. The two knew each other from their work with the liberal National Lawyers Guild, and Stolar regarded Eisenstein as a brilliant legal writer. If they were going to have a shot at challenging the NYPD, the lawsuit had to sing.

    Together they put out the word to their clients and friends that they were looking for stories about the NYPD. The anecdotes came pouring in, both from activists and from other lawyers who, it turned out, had been keeping folders of their own. The mass of materials described a police department run amok. There was evidence that police were collecting the names of people who attended events for liberal causes. Detectives posed as journalists and photographed war protesters. Police infiltrated organizations that they considered suspect and maintained rosters of those who attended meetings.

    * * *

    On May 13, 1971, the Panthers were acquitted of all charges. At the time, it was the longest criminal trial in New York history, spanning eight months. Closing arguments alone had stretched over three weeks. But the jury was out only three hours before voting for acquittal. And the first hour was for lunch.

    In the courthouse lobby, jurors milled about, congratulating the Panthers and their lawyers. Some exchanged hugs. Jurors said there wasn’t enough evidence that the conspiracy was anything more than radical talk. Defense lawyer Gerald Lefcourt called the verdict “a rejection of secret government all the way from J. Edgar Hoover down to the secret police of New York City.”

    The New York Times editorial page read:

    It is not necessary to have any sympathy whatever with Panther philosophy or Panther methods to find some reassurance in the fact that—at a time when the government so often confuses invective with insurrection—a New York jury was willing to insist on evidence of wrong-doing rather than wrong-thinking.

    Five days after the verdict, Stolar and Eisenstein filed a twenty-one-page federal lawsuit against the NYPD. It accused the department of widespread constitutional violations.

    The plaintiffs represented a grab bag of the New Left. There were Black Panthers, members of the War Resisters League, and gay-rights advocates. There were well-known figures such as Abbie Hoffman and obscure groups like the Computer People for Peace. One young man, Stephen Rohde, sued because when he applied for admission to the New York bar, he’d been asked whether he’d ever opposed the Vietnam War. He had once signed a petition in a basement at Columbia University, and his views had ended up in a police file.

    The lawsuit became known as the Handschu case, after lawyer and activist Barbara Handschu, who was listed first among the plaintiffs. Stolar and Eisenstein argued that the NYPD was using its surveillance tactics to squelch free speech. Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy did not deny using those tactics. Rather, he said, they were necessary to protect the city. Murphy devoted eighteen pages to explaining to the court why the NYPD needed an effective intelligence division. He said the effort began in the early 1900s as a response to the Black Hand Society, an extortion racket run by new Sicilian immigrants. As the threat evolved over the decades, so did the unit. The 1960s, Murphy said, was a dangerous time to be in New York. Along with antiwar protests, student unrest, and racial conflicts, he cited a list of terrorist bombings and what he called “urban guerrilla warfare.”

    In response to that threat, Murphy explained, the NYPD stepped up its investigations of political groups that “because of their conduct or rhetoric may pose a threat to life, property, or governmental administration.” It was true, Murphy conceded, that a portion of that rhetoric might be political speech, protected by the Constitution. But that was the reality of a world in which some people used violence to achieve political goals. The police needed informants and undercover officers to figure out whether political groups were planning criminal acts.

    “Without an effectively operating intelligence unit, the department would be unable to deal effectively with the many problems that arise each day in the largest, most complex, and most unique city in the world,” Murphy wrote.

    It would take nearly another decade before the lawsuit over the NYPD’s surveillance was resolved. In 1985 the city settled the Handschu case and agreed to court-established rules about what intelligence the NYPD could collect on political activity. Under the rules, the department could investigate constitutionally protected activities only when it had specific information that a crime was being committed or was imminent. Undercover officers could be used only when they were essential to the case, not as a way to keep tabs on groups. Police could no longer build dossiers on people or keep their names in police files without specific evidence of criminal activity.

    To ensure that the rules were being followed, the court created a three-person oversight committee. Two senior police officials and one civilian appointed by the mayor would review each police request for an investigation. Only with the majority approval of that board could an investigation proceed into political activity.

    On the morning of September 11, 2001, Intelligence Division detectives rushed to Lower Manhattan, but when they arrived, they realized their helplessness. They stood there on the street for hours, waiting for someone to tell them what to do. “Stand by” was all they heard. They stood by as World Trade Center 7 collapsed in a plume of dust and smoke and they waited as darkness began to fall on New York. Some were sent toward ground zero to escort surgeons onto the pile, where they conducted emergency amputations or other lifesaving procedures. Others gathered at the Police Academy, where Deputy Chief John Cutter, the head of the Intelligence Division, put them on twelve-hour shifts. He told them to contact their informants.

    It was both the right command and a useless one. Nobody there had informants plugged into the world of international terrorism. But the detectives did what they were told. They called dope dealers and gang members and asked what they knew about the worst terrorist attack in US history.

    They worked alongside the FBI out of makeshift command centers aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier and museum USS Intrepid and in an FBI parking garage, where some detectives sat on the concrete floor. They responded to the many tips called in by a jittery public. They questioned Muslims whose neighbors suddenly deemed them suspicious and visited businesses owned by Arab immigrants.

    This was exactly the kind of reactive, aimless fumbling that Cohen wanted to do away with when he came aboard. He envisioned a police force that was plugged into the latest intelligence from Washington and that generated its own intelligence from the city. If an al-Qaeda bomber were ever to set his sights on New York again, Cohen wanted his team to be able to identify the plot and disrupt the plan. The rules needed to change.

    * * *

    Stolar, the attorney who’d brought the Handschu lawsuit decades earlier, listened on September 20, 2001, as President George W. Bush went to Congress and declared war on terrorism. He knew things were about to change. The way he saw it, once the government declares war on something—whether it be poverty, drugs, crime, or terrorism—the public quickly falls in line and supports it.

    But this former radical, who witnessed police fire tear gas and beat antiwar demonstrators during Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention and who was part of some of New York’s most turbulent times, was surprisingly naive about what was to come. He talked to his wife, Elsie, a public defense lawyer, and told her it was only a matter of time before the FBI hunted down the people who planned the World Trade Center attacks. They would be prosecuted in Manhattan’s federal court, he said, and they would need lawyers. Even the worst people in the world deserved a fair hearing and staunch defense. If the choice presented itself, Stolar and his wife agreed, he should take the case. As it turned out, there would never be any criminal trials. The suspected terrorists would be shipped to a military prison in Guantánamo Bay, where the government created a new legal system.

    Stolar and his fellow Handschu lawyers also misjudged the NYPD’s response to the attacks. In early 2002, Eisenstein wrote to the city and said that, despite the tragedy, the Handschu guidelines represented an important safeguard of civil liberties. Eisenstein said that he and his colleagues were available if the city wanted to discuss the rules in light of the attacks. The city lawyers said they would consider it. Eisenstein didn’t hear anything for months. Then, on September 12, 2002, a twenty-three-page document arrived from someone named David Cohen.

    Cohen’s name wasn’t familiar to Stolar, but as he skimmed the document, it didn’t take long to reach a conclusion: “This guy wants to get rid of us completely.”

    The document, filed in federal court in Manhattan, had been months in the making, and Cohen had chosen his words carefully. He explained his background; his thirty-five-year career in the analytical and operational arms of the CIA. Invoking the recent attacks on the World Trade Center, he said the world had changed.

    “These changes were not envisioned when the Handschu guidelines were agreed upon,” he wrote, “and their continuation dangerously limits the ability of the NYPD to protect the people it is sworn to serve.”

    Like Commissioner Murphy’s affidavit about NYPD surveillance on radical groups in the 1960s, Cohen painted a picture of a nation—in particular a city—under siege from enemies within. Terrorists, he said, could be lurking anywhere. They could be your classmates, your friends, or the quiet family next door.

    “They escape detection by blending into American society. They may own homes, live in communities with families, belong to religious or social organizations, and attend educational institutions. They typically display enormous patience, often waiting years until the components of their plans are perfectly aligned,” Cohen said.

    He recounted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the attacks on embassies in Africa, the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and plots against landmarks in New York. America’s freedoms of movement, privacy, and association gave terrorists an advantage, he said.

    “This success is due in no small measure to the freedom with which terrorists enter this country, insinuate themselves as apparent participants in American society, and engage in secret operations,” he wrote, adding, “The freedom of our society has also made it possible for terrorist organizations to maintain US‑based activities.”

    The stakes, Cohen said, could not be higher.

    “We now understand that extremist Muslim fundamentalism is a worldwide movement with international goals. It is driven by a single-minded vision: Any society that does not conform to the strict al‑Qaeda interpretation of the Koran must be destroyed. Governments such as ours which do not impose strict Muslim rule must be overthrown through Jihad,” he said.

    Faced with this threat, Cohen said, the police could no longer abide by the Handschu guidelines. Terrorists, like the violent radicals of the previous generation, often cloaked themselves behind legitimate organizations. The police had to be able to investigate these groups, even when there was no evidence that a crime was in the works.

    “In the case of terrorism,” Cohen wrote, “to wait for an indication of crime before investigating is to wait far too long.”

    Sunday, Sep 1, 2013 01:30 PM +0200
    By Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman

    Find this story at 1  September 2013

    Copyright © 2013 by A&G Books, Inc.

    NYPD: The Domestic CIA?

    Just days after the release of our investigation of the FBI’s use of informants in Muslim communities around the US comes a probe by the AP into the NYPD’s collaboration with the CIA to spy on Muslims in the greater New York area. The AP’s Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo reveal that 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.”

    Some background: In 2002, the NYPD hired former CIA official David Cohen to run their civilian intelligence program. Cohen got help from a CIA official to train and run a surveillance program in Muslim-American communities in the New York City area. Under Cohen, the NYPD utilized the diversity of its force to dispatch undercover officers in ethnic neighborhoods where they could “blend in.” Officers were looking for “hot spots,” areas needing further investigation, like a bookstore selling “radical” literature. They still call this investigative team the “Demographic Unit.”

    The Demographic Unit, according to the AP investigation, monitors “daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as ‘mosque crawlers,’ to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.”

    Sound familiar? The FBI has engaged in similar activities with the help of a former CIA official, Phil Mudd. Mudd helped create a program called “Domain Management” to strategically focus the FBI’s resources on particular communities. A New York Times reporter once described how Mudd “displayed a map of the San Francisco area, pocked with data showing where Iranian immigrants were clustered—and where, he said, an F.B.I. squad was ‘hunting.'” When asked to comment, an FBI spokesperson told the AP: “If you’re sending an informant into a mosque when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, that’s a very high-risk thing to do…You’re running right up against core constitutional rights. You’re talking about freedom of religion.”

    In our own year-long investigation into the FBI’s activities with informants in Muslim communities, reporter Trevor Aaronson notes: “Informants have said in court testimony that FBI handlers have tasked them with infiltrating mosques without a specific target or ‘predicate’—the term of art for the reason why someone is investigated. They were, they say, directed to surveil law-abiding Americans with no indication of criminal intent.”

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    There are other similarities between the NYPD’s actions and the FBI’s intelligence operations in Muslim-American communities, like the NYPD’s method of gathering informants for its investigations. In one instance, the AP finds that the NYPD “asked the taxi commission to run a report on all the city’s Pakistani cab drivers, looking for those who got licenses fraudulently and might be susceptible to pressure to cooperate, according to former officials who were involved in or briefed on the effort.”

    And the NYPD isn’t limiting itself to investigations in New York City alone. They have expanded with, the AP reports, “officers deputized as federal marshals,” who are allowed to work out of state, such as in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts. According to the investigation, the information the NYPD obtains is sometimes passed on to the CIA. The AP notes that “the NYPD was looking more and more like a domestic CIA.”

    Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, says the program is potentially against the law. “Selecting neighborhoods for infiltration and surveillance as the NYPD has done is, at bottom, ethnic or religious profiling. Such discrimination runs afoul of our nation’s commitment to ‘liberty and justice for all.’ To the extent that the NYPD is monitoring the exercise of Muslims free speech rights and their right to practice their religion, it may also be running afoul of the First Amendment.”

    According to Patel, the NYPD’s program is the wrong use of the department’s resources. She said, “New York City has approximately 800,000 thousand Muslims—monitoring all of these people in the hopes of identifying suspicious activity is simply not effective. It would be more effective to build solid relations with the communities so that they would be comfortable reporting suspicious activity to the NYPD.”

    —By Hamed Aleaziz
    | Thu Aug. 25, 2011 3:40 AM PDT

    Find this story at 25 August 2013

    ©2013 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress.

    New York Police Ends Practice of Keeping Innocent New Yorkers in Stop-and-Frisk Database

    In a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Police Department agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked — and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have been black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. We speak to Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with a major development for opponents of New York City Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program. In a settlement announced Wednesday, the NYPD agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked, and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

    For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted over five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent.

    Two of the people at the center of the case spoke about what happened to them in 2010 in this video produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the case that was just settled. First we hear from Daryl Kahn, who was pulled over by two police officers in an unmarked van and issued a summons for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. That summons was later dismissed. We also hear from Clive Lino, who was issued a summons for spitting in public and possessing an open container. His charges were also dismissed.

    DARYL KAHN: If I, riding my bike, legally, on the streets of New York, can end up in a database, some kind of secret police database with my private information in it, for doing nothing wrong, then anyone in the city can end up in that database.

    CLIVE LINO: I’ve been stopped so many times that now I’ve lost count. It’s a waste of my time, and it’s an embarrassment, especially when you haven’t done anything at all. I get stopped just coming out of my building. [inaudible] and intimidated, harassed. I feel—I get, like, kind of on edge now when I see officers. I feel like I’m going to be stopped, like a hostage in my own neighborhood.

    DARYL KAHN: I was running an errand for my sister in Brooklyn. I was riding my bike, when I was pulled over by a couple of members of the NYPD.

    CLIVE LINO: Usually I’m not doing anything when I get stopped. And it proves it, because I’m usually let go.

    DARYL KAHN: They started asking me a series of questions, none of which I felt comfortable with, since I hadn’t done anything wrong. When I protested, the—it counter-escalated. More police officers were called over.

    CLIVE LINO: When I get a disorderly conduct summons, I’m just usually speaking up for myself, and the officers usually don’t like that.

    DARYL KAHN: I was wrenched off the bicycle I was riding. I was slammed up against the van, had my arms wrenched behind my back. I was handcuffed, had my head slammed against the van repeatedly.

    CLIVE LINO: No, I’m not a bad person. I don’t have a felony. I’ve never been to prison. I’m an honest, paying-tax citizen, and I hold a job. I just finished up my master’s degree at Mercy College. So, no, I’m not a bad guy.

    AMY GOODMAN: The voices of Clive Lino and Daryl Kahn, who sued the New York Police Department over its stop-and-frisk database.

    In related news, a federal judge is soon expected to issue a ruling in a major case challenging the constitutionality of the overall stop-and-frisk program.

    Well, for more, we’re joined by Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. The New York Police Department did not response to our request for comment.

    Donna Lieberman, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. Explain this settlement.

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, this settlement follows a couple of years of litigation, and it’s an important victory for all New Yorkers because it really closes the last loophole in the NYPD stop-and-frisk database. A law was passed in 2010, signed into law by Governor Paterson, that prohibits the police department from maintaining the names and addresses of individuals who were stopped and frisked and not arrested. But people who were arrested and cleared of criminal wrongdoing have their names kept in the police department database, even though there’s a statute that says you have—when somebody has their charges dismissed or is exculpated, the database has to—all government databases have to be cleared with regard to the incident. So, the police department was doggedly holding onto this information, so we had to go to court. And finally, they agreed to settle it, after an appeals court said that we had valid claims.

    AMY GOODMAN: So explain exactly who is in this database and how many people are in it.

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, there were millions, five, six million people in the NYPD database. And the police department—Ray Kelly, in a letter to Pete Vallone a couple years ago, said, “And this is important for us to have, because it helps us to investigate crimes,” translates into rounding up the usual suspects. And there were many who believed that in fact the proliferation of stop and frisk of hundreds of thousands, millions of New Yorkers, who were so innocent that they walked away without even a summons, was prompted by the police department’s desire to get a database of all black and brown New Yorkers. Now, that may be a little bit extreme, but who knows? And who knows really how it was being used? What we do know is that the collateral damage of this stop-and-frisk program that targeted people of color, that is totally out of control, was this police database of innocent New Yorkers, and there’s no reason why there should be a permanent police file of innocent people by virtue of stop and frisk.

    AMY GOODMAN: Now, as I said, we invited the New York Police Department on. The deputy commissioner, Paul Browne, couldn’t join us, but he did send the following comment. He wrote, quote, “As to the substance of the NYCLU’s claim today, the reality is that the NYPD had been in full compliance with the relevant law since it was passed by the New York State Legislature in 2010. Accordingly, there was no practical reason to continue this litigation. In other words, it’s been a moot point for three years.”

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: Funny the court didn’t think so. And there are actually two laws at issue. One is the law that required the striking of personal information about people who weren’t arrested, and the other was an already existing law that required the sealing of records with regard to peoples who were—people who were arrested and who were exonerated through the court proceedings. And it was that law that the police department was not complying with. And if the police department wasn’t doing it, it’s sort of surprising that they didn’t decide to settle it a long time ago.

    AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. In The New York Times, a senior lawyer for the city, Celeste Koeleveld said that some of the information was already accessible to police officers through other databases. And she said, “At the end of the day, it just didn’t make sense to continue this particular litigation.” So, what does that mean? You can get the information anyway?

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, the 250s, the forms that the police are required to fill out, remain, you know, available to the police department, but they’re not an electronic database. What we had here was an electronic, easily searchable database that could pull up information in seconds. And that was the problem here. Of course, the police hold onto their, you know, records that they maintain on paper.

    And, of course, by the way, the database is really, really important. It’s just not the personally identifiable information that’s important. The database tells us how many stop-and-frisks are going on and who they’re targeting. That’s how we have found out, that’s how New Yorkers know, that the program is out of control. So it’s really important to keep the information, but to keep it in an epidemiological kind of way, without personally identifiable information, so that—so that we can track this epidemic and not hurt people whose privacy rights are being impacted.

    You know, stop-and-frisk hurts when it happens. And people are sometimes physically brutalized. People are subject to humiliation. Their dignity is just, you know, disrespected. And it’s a traumatic experience. The database is kind of the silent pain. It’s the silent harm of stop-and-frisk, because if by virtue of walking while black you’re put into a permanent police database of usual suspects, well, then that’s a scar that can hurt you at any time in your life.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s look at these numbers. In 2012, you have well over a half a million stops and frisks.


    AMY GOODMAN: That’s two years after the law. This doesn’t change the number of stops and frisks. And, of course, what, something like 90 percent were totally innocent, and 55 percent were African American, 32 percent Latino. This doesn’t change the stops and frisks; it’s just how they collect data on them.

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: Exactly. I mean, there are a lot of challenges going on to the NYPD stop-and-frisk program. There are three major class action lawsuits now pending in federal court: one that challenges the whole—the abuses in the stop-and-frisk program overall; one that challenges the—what’s called the Clean Halls program, which is stop-and-frisk abuse in the—in residential buildings, where landlords sign up for particular police protection, and the police have used this as a pretext to subject residents to all sorts of constitutional violations; and one that challenges a comparable program in public housing. We expect a ruling from the federal court, you know, about the constitutional violations that are part of the NYPD stop-and-frisk program any day, any week now, and that will be very, very important.

    And, of course, there’s another aspect of the work that’s going on to rein in this out-of-control police department, which is the legislation that’s pending in the City Council. The City Council passed an inspector general bill, a racial profiling bill, with a supermajority on both. The mayor has promised to strong-arm one vote, so that his veto will not be overridden. And I think we’re convinced that the City Council is going to hold firm, and these historic pieces of legislation will override the veto, and that we’ll have a better framework for fair and just policing—and safe streets, by the way—in New York City at the end of the day.

    AMY GOODMAN: What about Mayor Bloomberg’s response, who has said there aren’t enough stops and frisks?

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: It’s hard to take that seriously. You know, even the RAND Corporation, which was commissioned to do the police department’s bidding in a report a few years ago, said that in a city this size you would expect maybe 250,000, 300,000 stop-and-frisks. You know, that was at a time when we only had like 400,000 or 500,000 going on. It’s like—it’s glib. It’s ludicrous. And you know what it says about the mayor? It says about the mayor that he just doesn’t get it, that he’s not black, he doesn’t understand the experiences of black parents who have to train their kids how to survive an encounter with the police, where they’re dissing you and you haven’t done anything wrong. I mean, he just doesn’t get it. And I’m confident that, you know, we’ll see major changes.

    AMY GOODMAN: I mean, his quote is quite something: “The numbers are the numbers, [and] the numbers clearly show [that] the stops are generally proportionate with suspects’ descriptions. And for years now critics have been trying to argue [that] minorities are stopped disproportionately,” he said. He said, “If you look at the crime numbers, that’s just not true. The numbers don’t lie,” he says, because these people who are stopped match descriptions. I mean, if you say, well, the word “black,” you arrest a lot of people in New York City, or you stop and frisk them.

    DONNA LIEBERMAN: Sure, but you know what? The myth about stop-and-frisk is that it’s about stopping suspicious people. About 15 percent—I think my number is right—of the stops are of people who fit a suspect description. You know, the overwhelming majority are police-initiated on the street. And when so many of the people walk away from a stop, that’s supposed to be based on suspicious activity, without so much as a summons, in an era of broken-windows policing where they would—where they arrest people and give them a ticket for an open container or spitting on the sidewalk, like Clive Lino, that just—it’s hollow. This isn’t a program about stopping criminals. It’s not a program about frisking people with guns. This is a program about stopping and frisking people who are innocent, innocent New Yorkers who commit the crime of walking while black. And last I heard, that’s not a crime.

    AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Donna Lieberman, for being with us. Donna Lieberman is the executive director of the New York City Civil Liberties Union. Stay with us.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Find this story at 12 August 2013

    Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violates Rights; Outside Monitor Is Ordered to Oversee Changes to the Legally Challenged Practice

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacts to a federal court’s decision on the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice, and outlines the reasons for appealing. Photo: Getty Images.

    The New York Police Department violated the Constitution with its practice of stopping and searching people suspected of criminal activity, a federal judge ruled Monday in a decision likely to lead police departments across the country to take a close look at their crime-fighting tactics.

    Finding that New York City’s so-called stop-and-frisk program amounted to “indirect racial profiling” by targeting blacks and Hispanics disproportionate to their populations, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the installation of the department’s first-ever independent monitor to oversee changes to its practices. City officials have argued that stop-and-frisk is a key component in their largely successful efforts to fight crime, but opponents have criticized it as a blatant violation of civil rights.

    New York City officials immediately criticized the decision. “No federal judge has ever imposed a monitor over a city’s police department following a civil trial,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He said the city didn’t receive a fair trial, citing comments from the judge that he said “telegraphed her intentions,” and he said the city would seek an immediate stay while appealing the decision.

    Mr. Bloomberg credited stop-and-frisk with helping drive crime in New York City to record lows. Murders in the city are at levels not seen in more than five decades, for instance. The mayor, who leaves office at year-end after three terms, predicted that should the judge’s decision stand, it could reverse those crime reductions “and make our city, and in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place.”

    While New York’s stop-and-frisk practice is much more widely used than those in most other cities, police experts said the ruling is likely to lead police in other cities to tread more carefully in their own tactics.

    “It’s definitely a wake-up call to any police chief in the country to be mindful to constitutional rights,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He added that “whether you do [stop-and-frisk] a little or a lot, because of this ruling, you have to be very cautious” about not violating those rights.

    Pearl Gabel for The Wall Street Journal

    Police stop a group in the Bronx in September 2012.

    Police experts said the practice is larger and more coordinated in New York City, where on a daily basis extra patrol officers are sent into neighborhoods where crime patterns have been identified.

    While officials in some cities said they wouldn’t be directly affected by the ruling, experts said the order for monitoring and other remedies in New York, including a pilot program in which officers will be equipped with “body-worn cameras,” is likely to be watched by city and police officials elsewhere.

    “Even though the decision itself only applies to the NYPD, the fact that it’s the largest police department in the country and it is the NYPD means there will be a lot of publicity,” said Samuel Walker, a criminal-justice professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Omaha, who testified as a plaintiffs’ expert on police monitors at the trial.

    Under the pilot camera program, officers in the precinct in each of the city’s five boroughs with the highest number of stops in 2012 will be required to wear the body cameras for a year. After that, the federal monitor will weigh whether the cameras reduced what the judge calls unconstitutional stops and if their benefits outweigh their costs.

    The ruling has the potential to embolden civil-liberties groups to confront police departments in other urban areas where officers are stopping minority residents at a rate disproportionate to their population. Stop-and-frisk advocates say that could mean broader scaling back of what they view as a powerful crime-fighting tactic.
    More Video

    A federal court judge ruled the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice in violation of the United States Constitution, why small talk is actually a big deal, and will protein bars made with cricket flour sell in the U.S.? Photo: AP.

    A federal court judge ordered an independent monitor to oversee reforms to the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice after ruling it violated the U.S. Constitution. Tom Namako reports on Lunch Break. Photo: AP.

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterates the success of stop-and-frisk and claims that New York is a “poster child” that the rest of the country looks up to. Photo: Getty Images.

    The civil-rights lawsuit challenging the policy, one of three class actions before Judge Scheindlin, was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of plaintiffs who had been stopped by the NYPD. “They did this because they believed what the NYPD was doing was wrong and they wanted it to stop,” said Darius Charney, an attorney at the center.

    The judge’s decision Monday came three months after she heard nine weeks of trial testimony as part of the suit challenging the policy, in which officers have stopped and sometimes frisked about five million people since Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002. One of the plaintiffs who testified in the trial, David Ourlicht, said he cried when he learned of the decision.

    “It’s a big victory for New York. As far as America as a whole, it shows the polarization,” he said.

    The other two class actions regarding the stop-and-frisk policy are pending trial.

    Stops, by law, must be based on reasonable suspicion of a crime, a standard that city officials insist that NYPD officers have met. During testimony, it was revealed that more than 80% of those stopped were black or Hispanic, approximately 90% of whom were released after being found not to have committed any crimes.

    The city argued during testimony that it focused a disproportionate share of its resources in minority neighborhoods with high crime rates and that its practices were “not racially biased policing.”

    Judge Scheindlin stated in her decision that the city adopted a “policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data.” The result, she said, is “the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause” of the Constitution.

    Associated Press

    Judge Shira Scheindlin named a monitor to oversee stop-and-frisk.

    Under a landmark 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Terry v. Ohio, police officers are allowed to stop those they have reasonable suspicion committed a crime or are about to commit a crime and frisk them if they have reasonable belief to think them armed or an imminent danger.

    Police including the NYPD have been practicing stop-and-frisk for decades, but the practice has come under more scrutiny in New York since 2003, when the NYPD began to be required to report to the City Council the total stops made quarterly. That number had steadily escalated to more than 685,000 a year by 2012 before drastically dipping this year.

    Police departments elsewhere say they are trying to balance the rights of citizens with their responsibility to fight crime.

    Adam Collins, Chicago Police Department director of news affairs, said all police departments have procedures to question potential suspects when appropriate. He said the Chicago department “uses contact cards to document these interactions and does not engage in any form of racial profiling.”

    Over the past two years, he said the CPD “has instituted additional training, mandatory for all officers, around how they are to interact with these individuals and the community to ensure a full understanding of the questioning and potential search.”

    The New Orleans Police Department recently updated its stop-and-frisk policy. The tactic allows police officers to “frisk the outer clothing” of a person they believe to be involved in a crime, according to a statement from the office of New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu. If an officer “reasonably suspects the person possesses a dangerous weapon, he may search the person,” according to the statement.

    —Meredith Rutland, Jacob Gershman and Tamer El-Ghobashy contributed to this article.

    A version of this article appeared August 12, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Judge Reins In Frisking By Police.

    August 12, 2013

    Find this story at 12 August 2013

    Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

    Stop-and-Frisk Data

    The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino.

    An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports:

    In 2002, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 97,296 times.
    80,176 were totally innocent (82 percent).
    In 2003, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 160,851 times.
    140,442 were totally innocent (87 percent).
    77,704 were black (54 percent).
    44,581 were Latino (31 percent).
    17,623 were white (12 percent).
    83,499 were aged 14-24 (55 percent).
    In 2004, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 313,523 times.
    278,933 were totally innocent (89 percent).
    155,033 were black (55 percent).
    89,937 were Latino (32 percent).
    28,913 were white (10 percent).
    152,196 were aged 14-24 (52 percent).
    In 2005, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 398,191 times.
    352,348 were totally innocent (89 percent).
    196,570 were black (54 percent).
    115,088 were Latino (32 percent).
    40,713 were white (11 percent).
    189,854 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
    In 2006, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 506,491 times.
    457,163 were totally innocent (90 percent).
    267,468 were black (53 percent).
    147,862 were Latino (29 percent).
    53,500 were white (11 percent).
    247,691 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
    In 2007, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 472,096 times.
    410,936 were totally innocent (87 percent).
    243,766 were black (54 percent).
    141,868 were Latino (31 percent).
    52,887 were white (12 percent).
    223,783 were aged 14-24 (48 percent).
    In 2008, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 540,302 times.
    474,387 were totally innocent (88 percent).
    275,588 were black (53 percent).
    168,475 were Latino (32 percent).
    57,650 were white (11 percent).
    263,408 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
    In 2009, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 581,168 times.
    510,742 were totally innocent (88 percent).
    310,611 were black (55 percent).
    180,055 were Latino (32 percent).
    53,601 were white (10 percent).
    289,602 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
    In 2010, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 601,285 times.
    518,849 were totally innocent (86 percent).
    315,083 were black (54 percent).
    189,326 were Latino (33 percent).
    54,810 were white (9 percent).
    295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
    In 2011, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 685,724 times.
    605,328 were totally innocent (88 percent).
    350,743 were black (53 percent).
    223,740 were Latino (34 percent).
    61,805 were white (9 percent).
    341,581 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
    In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 532,911 times
    473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent).
    284,229 were black (55 percent).
    165,140 were Latino (32 percent).
    50,366 were white (10 percent).

    About the Data

    Every time a police officer stops a person in NYC, the officer is supposed to fill out a form to record the details of the stop. Officers fill out the forms by hand, and then the forms are entered manually into a database. There are 2 ways the NYPD reports this stop-and-frisk data: a paper report released quarterly and an electronic database released annually.

    The paper reports – which the N.Y.C.L.U. releases every three months – include data on stops, arrests, and summonses. The data are broken down by precinct of the stop and race and gender of the person stopped. The paper reports provide a basic snapshot on stop-and-frisk activity by precinct and are available here.

    The electronic database includes nearly all of the data recorded by the police officer after a stop. The data include the age of person stopped, if a person was frisked, if there was a weapon or firearm recovered, if physical force was used, and the exact location of the stop within the precinct. Having the electronic database allows researchers to look in greater detail at what happens during a stop. Below are CSV files containing data from the 2011 electronic database.

    Downloadable Files

    Click here to download a compressed (.zip) CSV file of the 2012 database. This file is easily imported into most statistical packages, including the freeware R. It contains 101 variables and 532,911 observations, each of which represents a stop conducted by an NYPD officer. Variables include race, gender and age of the person stopped as well as the location, time and date of the stop.

    Click here to download a PDF file of documents and notes that may clarify the dataset. The PDF includes a list and description of variables, a blank stop-and-frisk reporting form (UF-250) and other notes provided by the NYPD.

    Find this story at 12 August 2013

    And a pdf of the story



    Judge Rules NYPD “Stop and Frisk” Unconstitutional, Cites “Indirect Racial Profiling”

    In a historic ruling, a federal court has ruled the controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactics used by New York City Police officers are unconstitutional. In a harshly critical decision, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said police had relied on what she called a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stop-and-frisks. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. In her almost 200-page order Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life. … Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates the bedrock principles of equality.” She also appointed a federal monitor to oversee reforms, with input from community members as well as police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted angrily to the ruling and accused the judge of denying the city a fair trial. We’re joined by Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel on the case. “This is a victory for so many hundreds of thousands of people who have been illegally stopped and frisked over the last decade,” Patel says.

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    AARON MATÉ: We begin with a historic ruling in federal court that the stop-and-frisk tactics used by New York police officers are unconstitutional. In a harshly critical decision, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said police had relied on what she called a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stop-and-frisks. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers [who] have been stopped and frisked have been innocent.

    AMY GOODMAN: In her almost 200-page order, Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, quote, “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life. … Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates the bedrock principles of equality,” she wrote.

    The ruling came after several months of testimony, much of it from eight plaintiffs who were all African American or Latino. Together they described a total 19 incidents in which they were stopped and, in some cases, searched and frisked unlawfully. Shortly after the decision was announced, the plaintiffs in the case held a news conference alongside their lawyers.

    DAVID OURLICHT: When I got the call this morning, the first thing I did was cry. And it wasn’t—wasn’t because I was sad or necessarily happy, but because it was so—you know, I put everything to—you know, it’s important, and to know that it was recognized is just—it’s hard to explain. I think, actually, there is something else I have to say. I think it’s a really good picture of what’s going on in society. I mean, this is a big thing for New York, but as far as America as a whole, it shows the polarization of people of color in this country as how we’re viewed, you know, and I think it—I think it just needs to be recognized.

    NICHOLAS PEART: You know, our voices do count, and count toward something, you know, greater. And, you know, this has been a long time coming, this case, and all the time that has been put into it and the sacrifices, you know, just taking off work and coming here and giving our testimony to, you know, a big issue that has transcended beyond communities of black and brown people. You know, this is an issue that folks in Tribeca now understand and folks in Soho now understand and have a really, really accurate understanding of this. You know, so I’m grateful for that and the attention that it has received. And, you know, I think it’s clear, you know, the psychological consequences of “stop and frisk” and it being a rites of passage for so many black and brown boys, and, you know, having this experience and being criminalized and, you know, how that carries on to their adult years. So I think we are taking some tremendous steps forward, and I’m definitely grateful for that.

    DEVIN ALMONOR: I just feel glad that my—my lawyers, I commend them, and the judge, for doing an outstanding job on my behalf and the other plaintiffs’. And it’s just the beginning of, like, reparations. And with my case, I could have, like—I could have been like Trayvon Martin, because each—it was just too unbearable, and I could have been in his same place. And my heart goes out to his family. And it’s just—it’s just very hard to get through this, but with the help of my parents and my friends and my lawyers, they’ve done all that they can for me, and I love them so very much.

    LALIT CLARKSON: In thinking about it, the reason why I joined on to this case was because many of us, including myself, feel like “stop and frisk” is police abuse, and that that’s the lowest level of police abuse. And once police abuse power when it comes to “stop and frisk,” then they can do it in terms of falsely arresting people, then they can do it in terms of planting evidence. And at the most extreme cases, they can do it in terms of killing people. So I think, for many of us here, including myself, this is important, because if we can find remedies to stop officers from violating our constitutional rights, then maybe other forms of police abuse, as it relates to people in my community and other community members, maybe some of that begins to stop.

    LEROY DOWNS: Just really thankful for the people that believed in us, you know, that we weren’t making up these stories. We didn’t fabricate anything. We came to the table and said, “This is our experiences, and we’re speaking for millions of other people that are going through the same thing in this city.” And I’m just hopeful that—I know it’s premature, but I’m hopeful that the monitor—it’s not too much bureaucracy with the other city—court-appointed monitors, that we can really have some teeth in the legislation and really make changes to stop-question-and-frisk, and that the policies can actually change, man, like not just talk about change, but really change, really make those adjustments so that people can walk down the street or can stand in front of their house on a cellphone and not have to worry about, you know, being accused of being a drug dealer or something like that. So, I’m thankful to that. Thank you.

    AARON MATÉ: Those are the voices of LeRoy Downs, Lalit Clarkson, Devin Almonor, Nicholas Peart, David Ourlicht, all plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk lawsuit. In her ruling, Judge Scheindlin found, quote, “the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.” She also appointed a federal monitor to oversee reforms, with input from community members as well as police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted angrily to the ruling and accused the judge of denying the city a fair trial.

    MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court. We believe we have done exactly what the courts allow and the Constitution allow us to do, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep this city safe. Throughout the case, we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial. And this decision confirms that suspicion. And we will be presenting evidence of that unfairness to the appeals court.

    AMY GOODMAN: That was Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. For more, we’re joined by Sunita Patel, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the case.

    We welcome you to Democracy Now! Your response to Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling?

    SUNITA PATEL: It’s an astounding victory for everyone in New York City. She has very correctly and smartly decided that the city is engaging in racial profiling. And this is—it’s a victory for so many hundreds of thousands of people who have been illegally stopped and frisked over the last decade.

    AMY GOODMAN: And to those who say that this is the reason crime is down and that the number of lives that have been saved from some—what did I hear one pundit quoting today?—3,000 in a year now down to 300 murders in a year, particularly in black and brown communities, that the number of black and brown lives saved is a result of this racial profiling?

    SUNITA PATEL: Well, for one thing, there’s no empirical evidence linking “stop and frisk” to crime reduction generally. Secondly, you know, this is a tactic, that this murder rate reduction has been quoted in the news—I think it’s a little bit blurry. When this administration—that’s a statistic that spans the course of, you know, 15 years. It’s not something—it’s not within the time period that we’re talking about. When Mayor Bloomberg came into office, the murder rate was already down to some—to a very small number. So, they’re taking credit for something that happened way before them, and they’re blurring the math on this issue. In addition, the crime rates have been going down nationally for the last two decades, and there just isn’t a link between the two.

    AARON MATÉ: Can you explain what Judge Scheindlin ruled in determining that “stop and frisk” violates the Fourth and 14th Amendment? And also talk about the remedies that she’s ordered.

    SUNITA PATEL: Yes. In the Fourth Amendment claim, she’s saying that—she said that the city has a practice, a widespread practice, of going out and stopping people without individualized suspicion that there is crime afoot, which is what is required by the Supreme Court law in Terry v. Ohio. In the 14th Amendment claim, she’s saying that, look, many of these stops are not only based on—lack reasonable suspicion, but they’re on the basis of race. The city and the New York Police Department is using race as a proxy for crime. Rather than looking at what is this person doing specifically that would allow the police to stop them, they’re saying, “Because they’re black or brown in this area, we’re just going to stop them to try to prevent crime,” which is not—is not constitutional, it’s illegal.

    And then, in terms of remedies, what she’s done is she said that she’s going to appoint a federal court monitor, which is very common in policing systemic reform cases to oversee the day-to-day activity of reforms. And she’s also said she wants a second phase of the reform, where community members get to have a stake in what reforms are going to happen. And she’s calling for a joint reform process that will have a facilitator, that allows—also allows the New York Police Department to have a seat at the table to say, “Hey, this is what we think would work. This is what we think wouldn’t work.” I mean, you know, this really should be seen as an opportunity by the police department.

    AMY GOODMAN: Who will be the court-appointed monitor?

    SUNITA PATEL: Someone named Peter Zimroth. He’s a partner at Arnold & Porter. We don’t know—you know, the plaintiffs’ counsel doesn’t—we didn’t have anything to do with this selection of the monitor, but we do know it sounds like he’s going to be very fair-minded. He’s a former corp counsel and just—attorney, and he’s a former district attorney. So, you know, in my mind, I would think that this is someone that the police department and the city should embrace working with, and we really hope that they will do that and decide not to appeal the judge’s very well-reasoned decision.

    AMY GOODMAN: During a news conference Monday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly blasted the ruling and insisted New York City police officers do not engage in racial profiling.

    COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY: What I find most disturbing and offensive about this decision is the notion that the NYPD engages in racial profiling. That simply is recklessly untrue. We do not engage in racial profiling. It is prohibited by law. It is prohibited by our own regulations. We train our officers that they need reasonable suspicion to make a stop, and I can assure you that race is never a reason to conduct a stop. The NYPD is the most racially and ethnically diverse police department in the world. In contrast with some societies, New York City and its police department have focused their crime-fighting efforts to protect the poorest members of our community, who are disproportionately the victims of murder and other violent crime—disturbingly so. To that point, last year 97 percent of all shooting victims were black or Hispanic and reside in low-income neighborhoods. Public housing, in just—with 5 percent of the city’s population, resides—experiences 20 percent of the shootings. There were more stops for suspicious activity in neighborhoods with higher crime because that’s where the crime is.

    AMY GOODMAN: That’s NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly speaking Monday. President Obama has indicated he may consider appointing Kelly the new secretary of homeland security, to which Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University and a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor, said, “Ray Kelly needs to be the Homeland Security secretary like Paula Deen needs to run the United Nations World Food Program.” He wrote, “Commissioner Kelly is the poster child for the most racially insensitive police practice in the United States, stop and frisk. During his term in office, the number of times police stop people on the street for questioning increased from about 100,000, in 2002, to almost 700,000 in 2011.” But Commissioner Kelly is saying that they are doing this in high crime communities and saving lives in those communities.

    SUNITA PATEL: Well, you know, this is something that was analyzed ad nauseam by the court. We had two statistical experts that testified multiple times in the case, and she said, “This is just absolutely false.” She gave very little weight to this argument, because, in reality, the number of times that officers actually check the box on the UF-250 form, that says that they’re stopping someone based on a suspect description, is not that high. It’s between 10 and 15 percent, depending on the year. Instead, they check this box that says “high crime area.” And when our statistical expert analyzed each incident, from 2002 to June 2012, when that box was checked, you know, we found that when you control for all other factors, race is what is determinative, not—it’s not actually the area and the crime rate.

    AMY GOODMAN: What about cameras?

    SUNITA PATEL: So the judge has ordered the city to test out in a—and to do a study in an evaluation of body-worn cameras. This is something that has been done in, you know, a few small jurisdictions around the country and has had a favorable impact on the—reducing the number of complaints against police officers. Again, this is something that the police department, if it’s doing its job correctly and is actually not engaging in racial profiling, would actually help and support police officers when there are complaints filed against them. You would actually have a contemporaneous record of what’s going on. It’s similar in some ways to traffic cameras, that are becoming standard in many large urban jurisdictions where there are complaints against police officers.

    AARON MATÉ: Now, the term itself, “stop and frisk,” can sound kind of harmless, you know, a “stop and frisk” or—it implies a pat-down. But what is the reality of this practice, that you see from talking to your clients?

    SUNITA PATEL: I mean, the reality is—I mean, that’s a great question, because I think a lot of people think of it as a very just like blasé—it’s just a frisk, it’s just a pat-down. What we heard in the trial was testimony from 12 people who said, “Look, this is humiliating, this is degrading. This is something that no one should have to go through.” And even worse, it’s something that is—that an entire generation of black and brown people is becoming desensitized to.

    We’re talking about something that is physically invasive and degrading. You know, this is an officer that’s saying, “Hey, put your hands against the wall,” and aggressively putting their hands over their bodies, down their waist, down their pant legs, both sides. And one of our plaintiffs—or one of our witnesses even testified about, you know, being grabbed in the groin area. And he felt—on his 18th birthday. And he just felt that this was so humiliating. He filed a complaint. And, you know, at that young age, to even—to bring that forward and to make that kind of claim and then feel that that was—that the officer was not held accountable, I mean, it really has a lasting detrimental impact on the relationship between the police and the community.

    AMY GOODMAN: So what happens from here? The city says they’ll appeal.

    SUNITA PATEL: The city says they’ll appeal. As I said earlier, I really hope that after they carefully consider the decision, they’ll decide not to. However, you know, they may appeal. Apparently, Michael Cardozo said that they’re considering when they can appeal. It’s not clear if they can appeal yet. And they will likely file a stay, which is something asking for the court—they’ll ask Judge Scheindlin to stay her injunction, so that they don’t have to do anything right now.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much, Sunita, for joining us. Sunita Patel is a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the stop-and-frisk federal action lawsuit. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a Democracy Now! exclusive. Stay with us.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Find this story at 13 August 2013

    Brooklyn Is Not Baghdad: What Is the CIA Teaching the NYPD?

    Most Americans think that the CIA works overseas while the FBI and local police protect them at home. But the agency has long worked domestically, and in the last decade it has become involved in counterterrorism operations with local police as well.

    A recent report by the CIA’s inspector general shows that such cooperation can easily go wrong. Between 2002 and 2012 the CIA sent four agents to help the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit (which is led by a former agency official) without making sure that they knew the limits of what they could and couldn’t do. According to the inspector general, this type of “close and direct collaboration with any local domestic police department” could lead to the perception that the agency had “exceeded its authorities.”


    Faiza Patel is co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Centre for Justice. She is also a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. Full Bio

    But the problem goes far beyond one of perception. We should be concerned that CIA involvement with local police will influence them to adopt a counterinsurgency mentality that is simply not warranted on home turf. When deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, the agency has to assume that it is working in a hostile environment. It’s operations are necessarily covert. It is not restrained by the full panoply of constitutional rules that apply at home.

    One cannot help but wonder whether a CIA mentality helped shape the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program. A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by the Associated Press has shown that police officers monitored every aspect of the lives of Muslim New Yorkers [since 9/11]. They secretly mapped out Muslim communities, noting the details of bookstores, barbershops and cafes. Informants in mosques reported on religious beliefs and political views that had nothing to do with terrorism. Muslim student groups across the Northeast were watched. All of this information, however innocuous or irrelevant to its purported counterterrorism purpose, landed in police files. It sure sounds like a program directed at a hostile population rather than a community with an exemplary record for cooperating with law enforcement.

    One counterinsurgency lesson that the CIA apparently failed to teach the NYPD was how aggressive tactics could alienate local populations. The NYPD’s surveillance program has severely damaged the police’s relationship with the Muslim community, leading to protests and lawsuits. The CIA’s involvement can only make American Muslims feel that they are being targeted by the entire U.S. government. Such perceptions undermine everyone’s safety. Decades of policing research shows that communities that do not trust law enforcement are less likely to come forward and share information.

    There is also good reason for the perception that the CIA exceeded its authorities during its NYPD partnership. When the CIA was created in 1947, lawmakers instructed it not to exercise “police, subpoena, or law enforcement powers or domestic security functions.” Congress’s aim to prevent Agency operations at home is plain, but the exact nature of forbidden “domestic security functions” is now defined in large part by secret rules.

    What is known about the CIA’s authority is mostly contained in Executive Order 12333, first issued by President Ronald Reagan and updated by later presidents. This order allows the agency to perform some domestic functions, including assisting federal agencies and local police. For example, the CIA is allowed to “participate in law enforcement activities to investigate or prevent” international terrorism. This should mean that CIA agents are kept away from purely domestic investigations. But according to the inspector general’s report, a loaned CIA agent overseeing NYPD investigations “did not receive briefings on the law enforcement restrictions” and believed there were “no limitations” on his activities. Another CIA operative admitted receiving “unfiltered” reports containing information about U.S. citizens unrelated to international terrorism.

    The rules governing the agency’s involvement in domestic matters are very flexible, but the few safeguards that are in place should be taken seriously. The inspector general’s report showed that these standards were not met, but shied away from calling out illegality and from holding anyone responsible. Indeed, the inspector general did not even believe a full investigation was warranted. Congress might want to ask why.

    Nor did the inspector general address the risk that CIA tactics honed in wars abroad could influence police operations at home. The agency should seriously evaluate this likelihood before assigning its personnel to police departments, as should the Congressional committees responsible for overseeing the intelligence community. Brooklyn is not Baghdad. American Muslim communities deserve to be treated as partners in the fight against terrorism and crime, not as hostile foreign populations.

    Faiza Patel is co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Centre for Justice. She is also a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries.

    Daniel Michelson-Horowitz is a legal intern with the Brennan Center for Justice.

    Faiza Patel and Daniel Michelson-Horowitz
    August 15, 2013

    Find this story at 15 August 2013

    © 2013 by National Journal Group, Inc.

    NYPD secretly branded entire mosques as terrorist organisations to allow surveillance of sermons and worshippers

    NYPD has opened at least 12 ‘terrorism enterprise investigations’ since 9/11
    Police spied on countless innocent Muslims and stored information on them
    No Islamic group has been charged with operating as a terrorism enterprise
    Investigations are so potentially invasive even the FBI has not opened one
    Comes as NYPD fights lawsuits accusing it of engaging in racial profiling

    The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorism organisations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

    Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen ‘terrorism enterprise investigations’ into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents.

    The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.

    Spied on: Dr Muhamad Albar (far left) speaks during Jumu’ah prayer service at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge mosque, which was targeted by the New York Police Department under controversial anti-terror laws

    Members of the Bay Ridge mosque in prayer: Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends services is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance

    Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

    Many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organisation with operating as a terrorism enterprise.

    The documents show in detail how, in its hunt for terrorists, the NYPD investigated countless innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files.

    Embarrassed NYPD officer who mistakenly thought a woman was catcalling him and not the man he had pulled over is being sued after ‘he took his jealousy out on the man and threw him in jail for 48-hours’
    ‘Sentenced to death for being thirsty’: Christian woman tells of moment she was beaten and locked up in Pakistan after ‘using Muslim women’s cup to drink water’

    As a tactic, opening an enterprise investigation on a mosque is so potentially invasive that while the NYPD conducted at least a dozen, the FBI never did one, according to interviews with federal law enforcement officials.

    The strategy has allowed the NYPD to send undercover officers into mosques and attempt to plant informants on the boards of mosques and at least one prominent Arab-American group in Brooklyn, whose executive director has worked with city officials, including Bill de Blasio, a front-runner for mayor.

    Linda Sarsour, the executive director, said her group helps new immigrants adjust to life in the U.S. It was not clear whether the police were successful in their plans.
    NYPD Secretly labeled mosques as terrorist organizations

    Under suspicion: Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen ‘terrorism enterprise investigations’ into mosques, including the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn

    ‘I have never felt free in the United States. The documents tell me I am right’: Zein Rimawi, founder of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge pictured (left) reviewing the NYPD files which reveal his mosque had been under surveillance and (right) on a protest March in New York in support of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi

    Sarsour, a Muslim who has met with Kelly many times, said she felt betrayed.

    ‘It creates mistrust in our organisations,’ said Sarsour, who was born and raised in Brooklyn. ‘It makes one wonder and question who is sitting on the boards of the institutions where we work and pray.’

    The revelations about the NYPD’s massive spying operations are in documents recently obtained by The Associated Press and part of a new book, Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.

    The book by AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman is based on hundreds of previously unpublished police files and interviews with current and former NYPD, CIA and FBI officials.

    Among the mosques targeted as early as 2003 was the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge.

    ‘I have never felt free in the United States. The documents tell me I am right,’ Zein Rimawi, one of the Bay Ridge mosque’s leaders, said after reviewing an NYPD document describing his mosque as a terrorist enterprise.

    On the Defence: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly (right) have previously denied accusations that the force engaged in racial profiling while combating crime

    Rimawi, 59, came to the U.S. decades ago from Israel’s West Bank.’Ray Kelly, shame on him,’ he said. ‘I am American.’

    The NYPD believed the tactics were necessary to keep the city safe, a view that sometimes put it at odds with the FBI.

    In August 2003, Cohen asked the FBI to install eavesdropping equipment inside a mosque called Masjid al-Farooq, including its prayer room.

    Al-Farooq had a long history of radical ties. Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian sheik who was convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks, once preached briefly at Al-Farooq.

    Invited preachers raged against Israel, the United States and the Bush administration’s war on terror.
    One of Cohen’s informants said an imam from another mosque had delivered $30,000 to an al-Farooq leader, and the NYPD suspected the money was for terrorism.

    Former CIA chief Michael Hayden (above) said a terror attack similar to the Boston Marathon bombing could not have been executed in New York because of the NYPD’s extensive spying on Muslims

    But Amy Jo Lyons, the FBI assistant special agent in charge for counterterrorism, refused to bug the mosque. She said the federal law wouldn’t permit it.

    The NYPD made other arrangements. Cohen’s informants began to carry recording devices into mosques under investigation. They hid microphones in wristwatches and the electronic key fobs used to unlock car doors.

    Even under a TEI, a prosecutor and a judge would have to approve bugging a mosque.

    But the informant taping was legal because New York law allows any party to record a conversation, even without consent from the others.

    Like the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, the NYPD never demonstrated in court that al-Farooq was a terrorist enterprise but that didn’t stop the police from spying on the mosques for years.

    The disclosures come as the NYPD is fighting off lawsuits accusing it of engaging in racial profiling while combating crime. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the department’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional.

    The American Civil Liberties Union and two other groups have sued, saying the Muslim spying programs are unconstitutional and make Muslims afraid to practice their faith without police scrutiny.

    Both Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have denied those accusations. They say police do not unfairly target people; they only follow leads.

    ‘As a matter of department policy, undercover officers and confidential informants do not enter a mosque unless they are following up on a lead,’ Kelly wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal.

    ‘We have a responsibility to protect New Yorkers from violent crime or another terrorist attack – and we uphold the law in doing so.’

    An NYPD spokesman declined to comment.

    In May, former CIA chief Michael Hayden said a terror attack similar to the Boston Marathon bombing could not have been executed in New York City because of the NYPD’s extensive spying on Muslim communities.

    Before the NYPD could target mosques as terrorist groups, it had to persuade a federal judge to rewrite rules governing how police can monitor speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    The rules stemmed from a 1971 lawsuit, dubbed the Handschu case after lead plaintiff Barbara Handschu, over how the NYPD spied on protesters and liberals during the Vietnam War era.

    David Cohen, a former CIA executive who became NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence in 2002, said the old rules didn’t apply to fighting against terrorism.

    Cohen told the judge that mosques could be used ‘to shield the work of terrorists from law enforcement scrutiny by taking advantage of restrictions on the investigation of First Amendment activity.’

    NYPD lawyers proposed a new tactic, the TEI, that allowed officers to monitor political or religious speech whenever the ‘facts or circumstances reasonably indicate’ that groups of two or more people were involved in plotting terrorism or other violent crime.

    The judge rewrote the Handschu rules in 2003. In the first eight months under the new rules, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division opened at least 15 secret terrorism enterprise investigations, documents show. At least 10 targeted mosques.

    And under the new Handschu guidelines, no one outside the NYPD could question the secret practice.

    Martin Stolar, one of the lawyers in the Handschu case, said it’s clear the NYPD used enterprise investigations to justify open-ended surveillance.

    The NYPD should only tape conversations about building bombs or plotting attacks, he said.

    ‘Every Muslim is a potential terrorist? It is completely unacceptable,’ he said. ‘It really tarnishes all of us and tarnishes our system of values.’

    By Daily Mail Reporter

    PUBLISHED: 12:43 GMT, 28 August 2013 | UPDATED: 15:04 GMT, 28 August 2013

    Find this story at 28 August 2013

    © Associated Newspapers Ltd


    just some parts

    The CIA inspector general’s report — completed in late 2011, but just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times — raises concerns about the relationship between the organizations.

    The investigation found “irregular personnel practices” and “inadequate direction and control” by CIA managers “responsible for the relationship.”

    “As a consequence, the risk to the Agency (CIA) is considerable and multifaceted,” said a memo from Inspector General David Buckley to David Petraeus, who was the CIA director at the time.

    “While negative public perception is to be expected from the revelation of the agency’s close and direct collaboration with any local domestic police department, a perception that the agency has exceeded its authorities diminishes the trust place in the organization.”

    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.”

    Find this document at

    Fresh questions for NYPD as CIA collaboration revealed in new report

    Civil liberties groups express concern over ‘deeply troubling’ report that sets out surveillance of New Yorkers since 9/11

    The NYPD has steadfastly argued that its counter-terrorism operations have stopped 14 terrorist plots since September 11. Photograph: Colleen Long/AP

    Campaigners for greater accountability at New York’s powerful police force have seized on a report that details for the first time the extent of the collaboration between the CIA and the NYPD in the years after 9/11.

    The formerly classified inspector-general’s report also raises new questions over whether the spy agency’s partnership with the nation’s largest police department amounted to unofficial cover for CIA officers to operate in the US in ways that could otherwise be deemed unlawful.

    The 12-page document, first described in a New York Times article published on Wednesday night, contains the December 2011 findings of an investigation into the CIA’s training and support of the NYPD that included embedding four officers in the department in the decade following the September 11 attacks.

    According to the report, one of the individuals engaged in surveillance operations on US soil and believed there were “no limitations” on his activities. The report said another officer was given “unfiltered” access to police reports that had nothing to do with foreign intelligence.

    The partnership led to “irregular personnel practices” devoid of “formal documentation in some important instances”, CIA inspector David Buckley found. While the review found no agency employees in violation of the law and Buckley determined “an insufficient basis to merit a full investigation” into the partnership, the inspector-general said the “risks associated with the agency’s relationship with NYPD were not fully considered and that there was inadequate direction and control by the agency managers responsible for the relationship”.

    The inquiry was prompted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of investigative stories by the Associated Press into the NYPD’s intelligence division. David Cohen, a veteran CIA officer with no police experience, was the architect of the NYPD’s spy programme and remains the department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence. The AP found that under Cohen and commissioner Ray Kelly, the intelligence division targeted more than 250 mosques along the east coast, infiltrated student groups and mapped Muslim neighbourhoods for surveillance.

    The NYPD has steadfastly defended its efforts, arguing that its counterterrorism operations have stopped 14 terrorist plots since 2001, although that claim has been contested in the case of almost every alleged plot.

    “We’re proud of our relationship with CIA and its training,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the New York Times. Terrorists “keep coming and we keep pushing back”, he said.

    In an extended interview with the Wall Street Journal in April, Kelly was asked if changes had been made to the NYPD’s surveillance programs in the wake of the AP series. “No,” he said.

    Speaking to the Guardian on Thursday, NYPD critics expressed concern over the details revealed in the IG report.

    “This is deeply troubling because, at the very least, it’s clear that there was insufficient legal guidance and oversight for this relationship,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s national security project, said. Shamsi is a lead attorney on a lawsuit filed last week on behalf of several Muslims and Islamic organisations accusing the NYPD of unlawful surveillance.

    “A key question is what information went back and forth between people even if they, at least formally, appear to have severed their relationship with the CIA,” she said. “It is very clear that there was insufficient legal guidance and oversight and that what should be a clear firewall between the CIA and local law enforcement, in terms of law enforcement and intelligence gathering, appears to be porous.”

    Shamsi said “the extent to which these people who were from the CIA had access to CIA databases, operations and information while they were embedded with the NYPD” remained murky. “That’s the thing the report doesn’t address,” she said.

    Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, said in an email to the Guardian that the report confirmed much of what had been reported or suspected in previous years, but expressed fear that the police department had internalised the worldview of an intelligence agency.

    “We already knew that the CIA inspector-general was concerned about irregularities in the assignment of CIA officers to the NYPD. The IG report shows that the concern was more serious than personnel issues, but touched on the agency’s involvement in purely domestic intelligence operations,” she said.

    Patel said that “at least one CIA analyst claimed that he was given unfettered access to NYPD intelligence reports” but said “the bigger issue, in my mind, is the extent to which the CIA’s way of working influenced the NYPD’s intelligence program”.

    “Brooklyn is not Baghdad,” Patel said. “All New Yorkers have a stake in the city’s safety and should be treated as partners in fighting crime and terrorism. The CIA, of course, operates in very different environments. My concern is that a mindset forged in counter-insurgency operations unduly shaped the NYPD’s intelligence operations, especially its Muslim surveillance program.”

    The Freedom of Information Act that eventually resulted in the disclosure of the inspector-general’s report was filed on 28 March 2012 by Ginger McCall, director of the open government project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington DC.

    The IG report showed the CIA had been dishonest in describing its relationship with the NYPD, McCall told the Guardian.

    “The report indicates that the CIA was not forthright with the American public about its activities,” she said, noting that the review detailed the work of four CIA employees with the department. Previous reporting had indicated there were only two. Some of those individuals, McCall said, “did have the opportunity to participate in domestic surveillance and domestic-focused investigations”.

    Attorney Jethro Eisenstein has been at the head of a four-decade lawsuit accusing the NYPD of violating a set of department rules prohibiting the investigation of political activity in the absence of an indication of illegal activity. Known as Handschu, the rules were developed in response to the department’s past surveillance of radical and activist groups. The rules are now at the heart of the legal debate over the NYPD’s CIA-backed surveillance of Muslim communities.

    Speaking to the Guardian, Eisenstein paraphrased the CIA’s assessment of its work with the NYPD, as described in the IG report as: “‘We were very sloppy in dealing with the NYPD, and maybe we got too deep in bed with them, and maybe we shouldn’t be doing that.'”

    Eisenstein said Cohen’s appointment to the department brought about a dangerous shift. “Once Cohen came aboard, the whole ethos of the place changed,” he said. “They stopped being cops. They started being an intelligence agency. As far as intelligence agencies are concerned, the more information about the more people, the better. And that’s contrary to what the Handschu rules say.”

    “It’s a whole different mindset. Law enforcement is about identifying, stopping illegal activity or apprehending people who have engaged in illegal activity. It’s a totally different model from intelligence gathering,” he said. Eisenstein said the shift represented “a huge danger”.

    A veteran NYPD reporter and author of the book NYPD Confidential, Leonard Levitt, said Michael Bloomberg’s successor as mayor should launch an independent commission to investigate the police department.

    “Somebody needs to look at what’s gone on in these 12 years,” Levitt said.

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    Ryan Devereaux in New York
    theguardian.com, Thursday 27 June 2013 23.29 BST

    Find this story at 27 June 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    How the CIA Aided the NYPD’s Surveillance Program

    In the years after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the NYPD had at least four “embedded” CIA officers in their midst. And because at least one of the officers was on unpaid leave at the time, the officer was able to bypass the standing prohibition against domestic spying for the agency and help conduct surveillance for the police force. In his words, he had “no limitations.”

    The news comes from a FOIA request by the New York Times for a 2011 review by the CIA’s inspector general of the embedded analysts. The report, published Wednesday by the paper, criticized the program’s “irregular personnel practice,” “inadequate direction and control,” and risks posed to the agency’s practice and reputation. The existence of the review is public knowledge — it followed the Pulitzer-winning series of reports on NYPD spying on Muslims, which reported on the CIA’s assistance to the NYPD, and vice versa:

    “Though the CIA is prohibited from collecting intelligence domestically, the wall between domestic and foreign operations became more porous. Intelligence gathered by the NYPD, with CIA officer Sanchez overseeing collection, was often passed to the CIA in informal conversations and through unofficial channels, a former official involved in that process said. By design, the NYPD was looking more and more like a domestic CIA.”

    As the Times notes, the public statement on the CIA’s review of the program stated that no laws had been broken. But the actual document shows that the agency had a much more mixed response to the program, and reveals more details on how the program worked:

    “The report shows that the first of the four embedded agency officers began as an adviser in 2002 and went on an unpaid leave from the agency from 2004 to 2009. During that latter period, it said, he participated in — and directed — “N.Y.P.D. investigations, operations, and surveillance activities directed at U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons.”

    C.I.A. lawyers signed off on the arrangement because the officer was on a “leave without pay” status at the agency and was “acting in a personal capacity and not subject to C.I.A. direction.” As a result, the official “did not consider himself an agency officer and believed he had ‘no limitations’ as far as what he could or could not do,” the report said.”

    Earlier this month, the ACLU sued the NYPD over the domestic spying program, which targeted Muslims. Meanwhile, the CIA itself isn’t having the best news day either — but at least the Times story wasn’t the result of a leak.

    Jun 26, 2013

    Find this story at 26 June 2013

    © 2013 by The Atlantic Monthly Group

    Informant: NYPD paid me to ‘bait’ Muslims

    This handout photo provided by Jamill Noorata, taken May 3, 2012, shows Shamiur Rahman, left, sitting with Siraj Wahhaj at John Jay Community College in New York. Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bengali descent who has now denounced his work, was a paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying bad things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Jamill Noorata)
    NEW YORK — A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.

    Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.

    “We need you to pretend to be one of them,” Rahman recalled the police telling him. “It’s street theater.”

    Rahman said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was “detrimental to the Constitution.” After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police — and after he told the police that he had been contacted by the AP — he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, “Steve,” and his handler’s NYPD phone number was disconnected.

    Rahman’s account shows how the NYPD unleashed informants on Muslim neighborhoods, often without specific targets or criminal leads. Much of what Rahman said represents a tactic the NYPD has denied using.

    The AP corroborated Rahman’s account through arrest records and weeks of text messages between Rahman and his police handler. The AP also reviewed the photos Rahman sent to police. Friends confirmed Rahman was at certain events when he said he was there, and former NYPD officials, while not personally familiar with Rahman, said the tactics he described were used by informants.

    Informants like Rahman are a central component of the NYPD’s wide-ranging programs to monitor life in Muslim neighborhoods since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Police officers have eavesdropped inside Muslim businesses, trained video cameras on mosques and collected license plates of worshippers. Informants who trawl the mosques — known informally as “mosque crawlers” — tell police what the imam says at sermons and provide police lists of attendees, even when there’s no evidence they committed a crime.

    The programs were built with unprecedented help from the CIA.

    Police recruited Rahman in late January, after his third arrest on misdemeanor drug charges, which Rahman believed would lead to serious legal consequences. An NYPD plainclothes officer approached him in a Queens jail and asked whether he wanted to turn his life around.

    The next month, Rahman said, he was on the NYPD’s payroll.

    NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday. He has denied widespread NYPD spying, saying police only follow leads.

    In an Oct. 15 interview with the AP, however, Rahman said he received little training and spied on “everything and anyone.” He took pictures inside the many mosques he visited and eavesdropped on imams. By his own measure, he said he was very good at his job and his handler never once told him he was collecting too much, no matter whom he was spying on.

    Rahman said he thought he was doing important work protecting New York City and considered himself a hero.

    One of his earliest assignments was to spy on a lecture at the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. The speaker was Ali Abdul Karim, the head of security at the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn. The NYPD had been concerned about Karim for years and already had infiltrated the mosque, according to NYPD documents obtained by the AP.

    Rahman also was instructed to monitor the student group itself, though he wasn’t told to target anyone specifically. His NYPD handler, Steve, told him to take pictures of people at the events, determine who belonged to the student association and identify its leadership.

    On Feb. 23, Rahman attended the event with Karim and listened, ready to catch what he called a “speaker’s gaffe.” The NYPD was interested in buzz words such as “jihad” and “revolution,” he said. Any radical rhetoric, the NYPD told him, needed to be reported.

    John Jay president Jeremy Travis said Tuesday that police had not told the school about the surveillance. He did not say whether he believed the tactic was appropriate.

    “As an academic institution, we are committed to the free expression of ideas and to creating a safe learning environment for all of our students,” he said in a written statement. “We are working closely with our Muslim students to affirm their rights and to reassure them that we support their organization and freedom to assemble.”

    Talha Shahbaz, then the vice president of the student group, met Rahman at the event. As Karim was finishing his talk on Malcolm X’s legacy, Rahman told Shahbaz that he wanted to know more about the student group. They had briefly attended the same high school in Queens.

    Rahman said he wanted to turn his life around and stop using drugs, and said he believed Islam could provide a purpose in life. In the following days, Rahman friended him on Facebook and the two exchanged phone numbers. Shahbaz, a Pakistani who came to the U.S. more three years ago, introduced Rahman to other Muslims.

    “He was telling us how he loved Islam and it’s changing him,” said Asad Dandia, who also became friends with Rahman.

    Secretly, Rahman was mining his new friends for details about their lives, taking pictures of them when they ate at restaurants and writing down license plates on the orders of the NYPD.

    On the NYPD’s instructions, he went to more events at John Jay, including when Siraj Wahhaj spoke in May. Wahhaj, 62, is a prominent but controversial New York imam who has attracted the attention of authorities for years. Prosecutors included his name on a 3 ½-page list of people they said “may be alleged as co-conspirators” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, though he was never charged. In 2004, the NYPD placed Wahhaj on an internal terrorism watch list and noted: “Political ideology moderately radical and anti-American.”

    That evening at John Jay, a friend took a photograph of Wahhaj with a grinning Rahman.

    Rahman said he kept an eye on the MSA and used Shahbaz and his friends to facilitate traveling to events organized by the Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society. The society’s annual convention in Hartford, Connecticut, draws a large number of Muslims and plenty of attention from the NYPD. According to NYPD documents obtained by the AP, the NYPD sent three informants there in 2008 and was keeping tabs on the group’s former president.

    Rahman was told to spy on the speakers and collect information. The conference was dubbed “Defending Religious Freedom.” Shahbaz paid Rahman’s travel expenses.

    Rahman, who was born in Queens, said he never witnessed any criminal activity or saw anybody do anything wrong.

    He said he sometimes intentionally misinterpreted what people had said. For example, Rahman said he would ask people what they thought about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, knowing the subject was inflammatory. It was easy to take statements out of context, he said. He said wanted to please his NYPD handler, whom he trusted and liked.

    “I was trying to get money,” Rahman said. “I was playing the game.”

    Rahman said police never discussed the activities of the people he was assigned to target for spying. He said police told him once, “We don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. We just need to be sure.”

    On some days, Rahman’s spent hours and covered miles (kilometers) in his undercover role. On Sept. 16, for example, he made his way in the morning to the Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, snapping photographs of an imam and the sign-up sheet for those attending a regular class on Islamic instruction. He also provided their cell phone numbers to the NYPD. That evening he spied on people at Masjid Al-Ansar, also in Brooklyn.

    Text messages on his phone showed that Rahman also took pictures last month of people attending the 27th annual Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan. The parade’s grand marshal was New York City Councilman Robert Jackson.

    Rahman said he eventually tired of spying on his friends, noting that at times they delivered food to needy Muslim families. He said he once identified another NYPD informant spying on him. He took $200 more from the NYPD and told them he was done as an informant. He said the NYPD offered him more money, which he declined. He told friends on Facebook in early October that he had been a police spy but had quit. He also traded Facebook messages with Shahbaz, admitting he had spied on students at John Jay.

    “I was an informant for the NYPD, for a little while, to investigate terrorism,” he wrote on Oct. 2. He said he no longer thought it was right. Perhaps he had been hunting terrorists, he said, “but I doubt it.”

    Shahbaz said he forgave Rahman.

    “I hated that I was using people to make money,” Rahman said. “I made a mistake.”


    Staff writer David Caruso in New York contributed to this story.

    Oct. 23, 2012

    Find this story at 23 October 2012


    © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions apply. See AP.org for details.

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