New York – Undercover NYPD officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents that show how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.
The infiltration echoes the tactics the NYPD used in the run-up to New York's
2004 Republican National Convention, when police monitored church groups,
anti-war organizations and environmental advocates nationwide. That effort was
revealed by The New York Times in 2007 and in an ongoing federal civil rights
lawsuit over how the NYPD treated convention protesters.
The monitoring was carried out by the Intelligence Division, a squad that operates with nearly no outside oversight and is so secretive that police said even its organizational chart is too sensitive to publish. The division has been the subject of a series of Associated Press articles that illustrated how the NYPD monitored Muslim neighborhoods, catalogued people who prayed at mosques and eavesdropped on sermons.
Investigators with his Cyber Intelligence Unit monitor websites of activist groups, and undercover officers put themselves on email distribution lists for upcoming events. Plainclothes officers collect fliers on public demonstrations. Officers and informants infiltrate the groups and attend rallies, parades and marches.
The document provides the latest example of how, in the name of fighting
terrorism, law enforcement agencies around the country have scrutinized groups
that legally oppose government policies. The FBI,
has collected information on anti-war demonstrators. The Maryland
state police infiltrated meetings of anti-death penalty groups. Missouri
counterterrorism analysts suggested that support for Rep. Ron
Paul, R-Texas, might indicate support for violent militias — an assertion
for which state officials later apologized. And Texas officials urged
authorities to monitor lobbying efforts by pro Muslim-groups.
The result of those efforts, however, was that people and organizations can be
cataloged in police files for discussing political topics or advocating even
legal protests, not violence or criminal activity.
NYPD document: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/documents/nypd/dci-briefing-04252008.pdf