The CIA and NYPD Are Breaking Up

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After the Associated Press revealed an NYPD collaboration with the CIA, in which the department spied on entire Muslim neighborhoods, that relationship is ending. An internal CIA investigation cleared the agency of wrongdoing, but decided that the CIA operative currently assigned to the NYPD intelligence unit will leave because the officer who served in that role until 2010 was "operating without sufficient supervision," The Wall Street Journal reports, while creating "spying programs that helped make the NYPD one of the nation's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies."

While the identity of the current agent who will be pulled remains classified, Lawrence Sanchez did the job for nearly a decade after September 11, and remained on the CIA payroll from 2002 to 2004 before taking a leave of absence.

The legal justifications for the relationship between the NYPD and the CIA, as well as the spying program in general, remain murky, with the CIA pushing general terrorism-related justifications. "Context matters here," said an agency spokesperson. "The CIA stepped up cooperation with law enforcement on counterterrorism after 9/11. It's hard to imagine that anyone is suggesting this was inappropriate or unexpected."

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has defended the Demographics Unit, which monitored local Muslims, but as the Journal reports, things aren't exactly rosy between that community and the police lately:

Relations between the NYPD and the Muslim community were further strained this week when police acknowledged that it showed nearly 1,500 officers a training video featuring Kelly. The video portrayed Muslims wanting to "infiltrate and dominate" the United States. Kelly apologized but only after police spokesman Paul Browne falsely claimed that the segment showing Kelly had been lifted from a previous interview. Browne later acknowledged that Kelly sat for an exclusive interview with the filmmakers and that Browne himself suggested it.

The removal of one CIA agent after ten years doesn't seem likely to change too much.