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Blank Checks and Balances: CIA Says Its Domestic Spying Isn't Domestic Spying, It's Domestic War Making
The agency's inspector general concluded that no laws were broken and there was "no evidence that any part of the agency's support to the NYPD constituted 'domestic spying'," CIA spokesman Preston Golson said.
The inspector general decided to do a preliminary investigation after a series of stories by The Associated Press revealed how after the 9/11 attacks the CIA helped the NYPD build domestic intelligence programs that were used to spy on Muslims. A CIA officer also directed intelligence collection and reviewed reports, according to former NYPD officials involved.
The revelations troubled some members of Congress and even prompted the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, to remark that it did not look good for the CIA to be involved in any city police department. Thirty-four lawmakers have asked for the Justice Department to investigate but so far that request has gone nowhere.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has maintained the NYPD's relationship with the CIA was proper. Under an executive order, the CIA is allowed to assist local law enforcement.
"Operating under this legal basis, the CIA has advised the police department on key aspects of intelligence gathering and analysis that have greatly benefited our counterterrorism mission and protected lives in New York City," Kelly said earlier this year.
David Buckley, the CIA's inspector general, completed his review in late October. It's not clear if his report opens the door for other municipal police departments nationwide to work closely with the CIA in the war on terror.
The CIA's deep ties to the NYPD began when CIA Director George Tenet dispatched a widely respected officer, Larry Sanchez, to New York, where he became the architect of the police department's secret spying programs. At the NYPD, Sanchez worked side by side with David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer who became head of the department's intelligence division just months after 9/11.
Sanchez also hand-picked an NYPD detective to attend the "Farm," the CIA's training facility where its officers are turned into operatives. The detective, who completed the course but failed to graduate, returned to the police department where he works today armed with the agency's famed espionage skills.
Sanchez was on the CIA payroll from 2002 to 2004 and then took a temporary leave of absence to become deputy to Cohen.
In 2007, Sanchez left the CIA, staying on at the NYPD until late 2010. He now works as a security consultant in the Persian Gulf region.
Earlier this year, one of the CIA's most experienced clandestine operatives was detailed to the NYPD as special assistant to the deputy commissioner of intelligence.
Kelly has said the CIA operative provides "technical information" to the NYPD but "doesn't have access to any of our investigative files."