NYPD Muslim spy-gate has taken another turn, as it was revealed that millions of dollars in White House money helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance.
According to the Associated Press, since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 money from a little-known grant helped law enforcement fight drug crime.
The Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.
However some of that money, how much is not known, was used to pay for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods.
The AP confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials.
The AP also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The HIDTA grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD’s wholesale surveillance of places where Muslims eat, shop, work and pray complicates efforts by the Obama administration to stay out of the fray over New York’s controversial counterterrorism programs.
The Obama administration, however, has pointedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD programs it helps pay for. The White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments.
John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, last year called the NYPD’s efforts “heroic” but would not elaborate.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department also gives grant money to the NYPD and is one of the lead federal agencies helping police build relationships with Muslims, has refused in recent months to discuss the police tactics.
Outside Washington, the NYPD’s efforts drew increased criticism last week. College administrators at Yale, Columbia and elsewhere issued harsh rebukes for NYPD’s infiltration of Muslim student groups and its monitoring of school websites.
New Jersey’s governor and the mayor of its largest city have complained about the NYPD’s widespread surveillance there, outside New York’s police jurisdiction.
As Newark Mayor Cory Booker told us last week: “No Newark resident should be subject to spying.”
The White House HIDTA grant program was established at the height of the drug war to help police fight drug gangs and unravel supply routes.
It has provided about $2.3 billion to local authorities in the past decade.
So the NYPD misappropriated the funds that were supposed to be used to crack down on drug trafficking, instead using the money to spy on Muslim residents in New York and New Jersey.