President Barack Obama's chief counter-terrorism advisor said Friday that he backed the NYPD’s counter-terrorism program, which has drawn fire for its covert monitoring of Muslims in and out of the city.
John Brennan made the comments at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan after he gave a briefing on the status of the U.S.'s global counter-terrorism efforts to NYPD brass and private sector security executives.
He did not comment on the NYPD's surveillance specifically.
"I have full confidence that the NYPD is doing things within the law, and has been responsible for keeping this city safe for the past decade," Brennan said when asked about critical reports on NYPD’s tactics in an Associated Press series that won a Pultizer Prize this week.
Brennan said he planned to meet with members of the Muslim community in New York on Saturday.
"The Muslim community here is part of the solution to the terrorist threat and they need to be part of that effort," Brennan said.
There was considerable political fallout in the aftermath of the Associated Press reporting about the NYPD's mapping and covert surveillance of Muslim businesses and institutions in Newark, N.J.
The NYPD said that its work in Newark was done with authorization and support of former Newark Police Commissioner Gary McCarthy, who now leads the Chicago police department.
But Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker objected that they were not in the loop, and accused the NYPD of acting out of their jurisdiction.
FBI Special Agent Michael Ward, who leads New Jersey's Joint Terrorism Task Force, was critical of the NYPD's Newark operation because it set back relations between New Jersey Muslims and law enforcement.
"What we are seeing now, with the uproar that is occurring in New Jersey, is that we're starting to see cooperation being pulled back," Ward said.