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The CIA has opened an internal investigation into whether the agency broke a ban against domestic spying in its work with New York City police, top officials said Tuesday.
Newly appointed CIA director David Petraeus, who took over the spy agency this month, said the probe by the agency’s inspector general would look at the work of a CIA “adviser” at the New York police department helping with counter-terrorism efforts.
The adviser “tries to ensure that there is sharing of information as that is essential,” Petraeus told lawmakers.
“We are very sensitive to the law and privacy and indeed there is an internal investigation that was requested by the acting director before I assumed the position of director,” he said.
Petraeus added that “I will continue to follow-up on (the investigation) and just to ensure that we are doing the right thing, if you will, in that case.”
The CIA adviser’s role was first reported by the Associated Press, which described the New York police sending out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper said the CIA was providing “help” to the New York police but was not gathering intelligence.
“There has been help given there. There is now an embedded analyst, not anyone from CIA who’s out on the street collecting ‘humint’ (human intelligence),” Clapper told the same hearing.
The CIA has previously defended the cooperation with the New York police department and denied it has crossed legal boundaries that prohibit the agency from spying on Americans inside US borders.
The Central Intelligence Agency’s focus “is overseas and none of the support we have provided to NYPD can be rightly characterized as ‘domestic spying’ by the CIA,” spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said in an earlier statement.
“Any suggestion along those lines is simply wrong.”