NYPD opens Kfar Saba, Israel branch

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The New York Police Department has opened a branch in Kfar Saba, Israel, Ma’ariv reports, in a translation published on the front page:

The New York Police Department opened its Israeli branch in the Sharon District Police headquarters in Kfar Saba. Charlie Ben-Naim,  a former Israeli and veteran NYPD detective, was sent on this mission. …

Behind the opening of the branch in the Holy Land is the NYPD decision that the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact. …

The NYPD intelligence division had opened liaison offices in 11 foreign countries, Jeff Stein reported at the Washington Post‘s SpyTalk blog in 2010. Stein noted concerns, however, about oversight and accountability for the New York cops overseas, and lack of transparency for the foundation that funds the NYPD intelligence division’s International Liaison Program (ILP):

There appears to be no monitoring of the NYPD, a municipal agency that in its anti-terrorism measures, has become a mini-CIA,” maintains Leonard Levitt, a longtime former Newsday police reporter and author of “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force.”

“There are no safeguards to ensure that the NYPD doesn’t break the law. …,” said Levitt, who broke the story about Kelly’s Harvard Club dues on his blog.

Thomas V. Fuentes, who headed the FBI’s Office of International Operations from 2004 until his retirement in November 2008, calls the ILP “a complete waste of money.”

Among the potential concerns raised, that the NYPD intelligence division operates overseas entirely outside the chain of command, or oversight, of US federal agencies.

In July, Reuters reported that NYPD intelligence analysts had prepared their own assessment of Hezbollah activities worldwide. It’s unclear how much influence foreign liaison agencies may have on such assessments, and whether the findings are consistent with those of US federal security agencies.

Back at home, the Associated Press reported on extensive spying by the NYPD on Muslims and mosques well outside their jurisdiction, in an investigative series that won the Pulitzer Prize. Among their findings: that in six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods and mosques without any probable cause, the NYPD’s secret demographics unit  “never generated a [single] lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.”

The unit’s sleuths did, however, apparently develop a running list of several good Middle Eastern restaurants.

Leading investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill to quip on Twitter:

I basically use the NYPD “counterterrorism” documents to find great new restaurants and cafes.

(Top Photo: NYPD Police officer James Carmody (R) and Lieutenant David Nadel (L) visit a bomb site in Jerusalem February 12, 2002. Reuters/Nir Elias. Bottom photo: Turkish felafel, Reuters, from Al-Monitor’s Felafal Wars photo gallery.)