Officials in three states traded accusations over who knew what about a secret 2007 New York Police Department operation that monitored and cataloged Muslim neighborhoods throughout New Jersey's largest city.
The operation resulted in a 60-page NYPD report, released by the Associated Press this week, containing photographs and notes about every mosque and Muslim business in Newark, just west of Manhattan.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Thursday that Newark police were fully aware of the operation, contradicting statements by Newark officials a day earlier. He did not get into specifics on the case.
"In this particular case, (the department) did notify Newark officials, before and after, and a Newark liaison officer was assigned to the NYPD personnel when they were in there," he told reporters.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and his police director criticized the report and said the NYPD misled them, telling them only that it was going into the city as part of a terrorism investigation. Had they known their entire Muslim community was under scrutiny, they said, they never would have allowed it.
The dispute stretched all the way to Chicago because the Newark police director in 2007 is now running Chicago police.
Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he got nothing more than a courtesy call that the NYPD was sending plainclothes officers into Newark.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended McCarthy and distanced his city from the NYPD's tactics. "We don't do that in Chicago, and we're not going to do that," Emanuel said.
Universities including Yale, Columbia and the University at Buffalo have criticized the police department for infiltrating Muslim student groups and trawling their websites, then putting the names of students and academics in reports.