Columbia University to Investigate NYPD's Muslim Spy Scheme

Columbia University plans on investigating reports that the New York Police Department, which spied on Muslims at Northeastern universities, targeted students at the Ivy League institution, according to The Associated Press (via Wall Street Journal.)

At a university meeting Tuesday, Provost John H. Coatsworth said that Columbia and the college's own police department were working to figure out the extent of the NYPD's spy scheme. They weren't sure how much the NYPD investigated Columbia, the AP says.

Previous AP reports indicate that a 2006 police brief named Columbia as one of the universities included in the NYPD's investigation of American Muslims.

The AP recently released an investigative report chronicling the NYPD's extensive surveillance of Muslim student associations. As part of these activities, the NYPD went as far as Yale and the University of Pennslyvania, the AP reports -- and even went on a whitewater rafting trip.

Some Columbia students are dismayed, however, that the university President Lee C. Bollinger has not written a public letter lambasting the NYPD and Commissioner Ray Kelly's sketchy policies.

Another recent AP report has revealed that the NYPD got some spy money from a little-monitored White House anti-drug program. This op, a grant program called the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), has given New York and New Jersey some $135 million since Sept. 11, 2001. HIDTA is controlled by the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Though the setup is supposed to be for anti-drug efforts, some HIDTA money has gone toward anti-terrorism work.

Turns out that part of the HIDTA cash: "has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events."

Bloomberg has long stood behind the NYPD's tactics, defensively telling reporters that they protect freedoms.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier today that his office will review NYPD's intel department. This has peeved some Dems in Congress, who thought that the A.G. had already been looking into civil rights complaints, the AP notes.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.

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