The federal grants were intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since 9/11 the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to New York and New Jersey law enforcement authorities through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.
Some of that money, how much is unknown, paid for the vehicles that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.
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 White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments and refused to either endorse or condemn the NYPD programs it helps pay for.
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.
“I am shocked to hear that federal dollars may have helped finance the NYPD’s misguided efforts to spy on Muslims in America,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., one of 34 members of Congress who have asked the Justice Department and House Judiciary Committee to investigate the NYPD.
The connection between NYPD and the White House anti-drug grant program surfaced years ago, during a long-running civil rights lawsuit against police. Civil rights attorneys asked in court about a “demonstration debriefing form” that police used whenever they arrested people for civil disobedience. The form carried the seal of both the NYPD Intelligence Division and HIDTA.
After the revelation of an extensive program to monitor Muslims in Newark, N.J., police there denied knowing about it. The Newark police director at the time, Garry McCarthy, has since moved on to lead Chicago’s police department where President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now the mayor.
“We don’t do that in Chicago and we’re not going to do that,” Emanuel said last week.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the NYPD surveillance in his state was “disturbing” and has asked the attorney general to investigate. Christie was New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor and sat on the HIDTA executive board during 2006 and 2007 when the NYPD was conducting surveillance in New Jersey cities. Christie said he didn’t know that, in 2007, the NYPD tracked every mosque and Muslim business in Newark, the state’s largest city.
“I kind of think I would have remembered that,” he said on Fox Business News last week.
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