President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser praised the New York Police Department's work Friday, saying the agency has struck an appropriate balance between keeping people safe and protecting their rights.
"It's not a trade-off between our security and our freedoms and our rights as citizens," John Brennan said Friday in an appearance at NYPD headquarters. "I believe that that balance that we strike has been an appropriate one. We want to make sure that we're able to optimize our security at the same time we optimize those freedoms that we hold and cherish so deeply."
The comments from the top counterterrorism official in the White House follow months of debate over an NYPD domestic intelligence operation that placed Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups under surveillance. The Associated Press revealed the details of the program in a series of articles that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting earlier this week.
Brennan's comments represent a White House stamp of approval of the NYPD's tactics. For months, the Obama administration has sidestepped questions about the NYPD surveillance programs while insisting on the importance of building partnerships with American Muslims.
Some elected officials and community advocates have accused the NYPD of infringing on Muslims' civil rights and of illegally engaging in religious and ethnic profiling.