SurveillanceFBI questions its relationship with the NYPD, pt. 1

Published 26 March 2012

The split between the the FBI and the NYPD continues to grow, as the NYPD Intelligence Division takes on a far-reaching and aggressive role in intelligence gathering

After the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and details emerged about the bits and pieces to the puzzle that were held by the different intelligence organizations within the U.S. government, calls for information sharing began to grow.

Culminating in the report of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, intelligence agencies at the federal, state, and local levels began to develop liaison programs to share information.

The most recent development in this move toward cooperation has been the establishment of Fusion Centers, fully equipped information centers, staffed by intelligence officials from the federal, state, and local levels.

The function of these Fusion Centers has been to house all these intelligence officials under one roof, indeed, in one large, fully equipped hall, in close proximity to each other to facilitate rapid transfer of information, spotting of developing trends and coordination of approach to the potential threat.

The FBI, however, as of late, been raising complaints that the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division has been acting autonomously, failing to relay intelligence, and is creating an environment of non-cooperation that runs counter to the intent of the Fusion concept.

The Associated Press reports that this perceived undermining of the function of the Joint Terrorism Task Force reached its nadir in the fall of 2010, when the FBI and NYPD had been cooperating on a Long Island terrorism case, which had been open in the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn for more than a year.

The Justice Department was stunned when the NYPD went to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, requesting a search warrant, without having advised the FBI of their intention in advance.

The AP report goes on to say that the FBI’s top counterintelligence officer at the time was infuriated, and issued an order to his agents no longer to share information with NYPD intelligence officers, and ordered the suspension of the weekly meetings of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the primary conduit through which information flows between federal, state and local intelligence officials.

Local officials often complain that they develop the intelligence on a potential threat, only to have the FBI swoop in at the near-last minute to make the arrest, and “steal the thunder,” taking credit for the arrest, This has been one of the hindrances to information exchange between the agencies.

The inherent danger here is that information does not get transmitted, and therefore coordinated, and the end result is the danger of a terrorist attack which is successful.

This has not been an isolated incident. The NYPD Intelligence Division has, over time, transformed itself into one of the nation’s most aggressive intelligence bodies, an entity which operates inside and outside the boundaries of the City of New York, in ways that the FBI is prohibited from acting.

Criticism of the NYPD’s actions come from out of state as well. From the top agent in the FBI’s office in New Jersey to the state’s governor, complaints over the NYPD’s Intelligence operations mount.

The AP quotesNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the state’s former top federal prosecutor, who said recently that “They think their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City…. My concern is this kind of obsession that the NYPD seems to have that they’re the masters of the universe.”

Tomorrow: The NYPD responds to the complaints