2:05 pm Mar. 7, 2012
In a swipe at New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's assertion that his department's surveillance of Muslims is an effective anti-terrorism tool, the head of the Federal Bureau of Intellegence's office in New Jersey said it's actually undermining the bureau's effort to gather information.
"What we're seeing now with the uproar that's occurring in New Jersey, is that we're starting to see cooperation pulled back," special agent Michael Ward told reporters today.
Ward also complained about the level of cooperation the bureau has gotten from Kelly's department, saying, "They bring information forward that they think is worthy of sharing and we're kind of at the mercy of what they decide to tell us and when they decide to tell us."
The comments today are the strongest denunciation of the NYPD tactics by a law enforcement official so far. The comments follow complaints from New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Senator Robert Menendez and Newark mayor Cory Booker.
The reactions from New Jersey officials stand in sharp contrast to the the reactions from New York lawmakers, which have ranged from full-throated and strong support for Kelly, to mild statements questioning the practice's effectiveness.
Which is to say there seems to be a very heavy jurisdictional element to the fight over the surveillance program, in the sense that it has become a turf way between New Jersey and New York and now, publicly, between the F.B.I. and the NYPD.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne strongly rejected Ward's characterization.
"Contrary to Mr. Ward's assertions," Browne said, "the NYPD has established strong ongoing relations in the Muslim community, and our intelligence gathering has led to the capture of the radical converts."
Also, Browne said the reports of the NYPD surveillance going "beyond what the FBI would do" is "untrue. The FBI's own guidelines that were in force when NYPD did demographic surveys provides for exactly the same thing."
And so far, the complaints from Ward aren't being fully echoed at the top of his agency. An NYPD spokesman noted that the F.B.I. director Robert Mueller said today, "Ray Kelly has done a remarkable job protecting New York. New York has been and continues to be a target."
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