Federal Anti-Drug Grants Paid for NYPD Muslim Surveillance

By McCarton Ackerman 02/28/12

The White House says it had no control over a highly controversial diversion of funds.

Muslims praying in NYC Photo via

Anti-drug trafficking grants from the White House paid for cars that plain clothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods, and for computers that stored trivial information about Muslim college students and mosque events. Since the 9/11 attacks, 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 (HIDTA), whose grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. This is confirmed by the AP through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. However, the Obama administration says it has no control over how the NYPD spends its grant money and that congress isn't provided with a breakdown of activities. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney adds that the White House drug policy office has no authority to direct, manage or supervise law enforcement operations, including NYPD surveillance of Muslims. "This is not an administration program or a White House program," says Carney. "This is the New York Police Department." NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly is unapologetic, claiming that local politicians who questioned NYPD methods are pandering to voters. The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union yesterday called for a federal investigation.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.