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Tempers may be raging over revelations the New York Police Department has secretly been conducting surveillance in New Jersey, but a simple check of government records shows the NYPD has been operating in the Garden State for at least seven years.

And they have done it with the permission of the governor's office - granted in 2005 by former Gov. Richard Codey, state records show.

It was only two years later that the NYPD began a spy operation in Newark, sending in street operatives to compile reports on Muslims living and working in the state's largest city.

The set of executive orders were put on the books in July 2005, following a series of terror attacks that tore through three London subway trains and a double-decker bus. The two orders gave the NYPD open-ended legal authority to operate in New Jersey in limited circumstances, without the need to seek additional local clearance. The orders - Nos. 43 and 44 - can be found on the state government website.

The orders specify the granting of police powers along railroad rights of way and ferry terminals in New Jersey. However, a high-ranking law enforcement source Thursday said the executive orders represented a "legal agreement" that was used to open the door to the NYPD conducting its surveillance operation in the Garden State without having to clear it through local channels.

The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly of the matter, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Codey said the orders were meant to foster coordination.

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"The compact is to make sure that law enforcement agencies cooperate when it comes to espionage after 9/11," the Democratic state senator said. "But you don't do it without telling somebody when they're on your territory."

State and local officials, though, said Thursday they had no clue the NYPD had been operating in their backyard.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and the New Jersey State Police both said they were unaware of the operation.

Dominic Rota, a spokesman for the state Department of Homeland Security, said his office was "not alerted of this activity; nor were we involved."

Gov. Chris Christie, who served as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey when the NYPD spy operation was launched, said he had no recollection of it.

"I may have been briefed about it in '07," he said at a press conference Wednesday. "If I was, I don't remember it."

Christie added that if the NYPD had been working directly with local police departments in New Jersey, or with the State Police, he would not have necessarily been briefed.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne during a briefing with reporters Thursday said the city told Newark police about the operation before it began and briefed them afterward. He said the operation was legal, citing Supreme Court rulings and a court order governing the gathering of intelligence

In the department's 60-page report obtained by the Associated Press of the surveillance efforts in Newark, the NYPD labeled its efforts as a "joint operation with the Newark Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit" as an effort to "identify the existence of population centers and business districts of communities of interest."

The report catalogued and photographed dozens of mosques and Muslim-owned business in the city - from restaurants to markets to houses of worship in private homes.

© Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-LedgerWatas Ali, the manager of the Dollar Deal store on Broad Street, claims Muslim-owned stores have been singled out from other businesses.
According to Newark police officials, Garry McCarthy, Newark's former police director, had been informed of the matter and detailed a detective to provide a city tour to NYPD investigators, but said the city had provided no other assistance.

Since the revelations came to light, McCarthy, who now heads the Chicago Police Department, has remained silent and not returned calls to his office or cell phone.

The state Attorney General's Office Thursday said it is reviewing calls for an investigation into the controversial surveillance program. Lee Moore, a spokesman for the department, said the governor's executive orders will be part of their review, but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, criticism of the NYPD operation continued to grow, as U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th Dist.) both questioned its purpose.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, Menendez called for a probe.

"I am deeply concerned by reports that the NYPD's law enforcement efforts focused on individuals who were not suspected of any criminal activity," wrote the senator. "While I strongly support credible efforts to prevent terrorism, I have grave concerns about any program that targets communities with no credible law enforcement intelligence."

Pascrell said there was no reason for the NYPD to be engaging in a surveillance operation in New Jersey without first communicating with the U.S. attorney, the State Police and local law enforcement agencies.

"We must focus on behavioral profiling rather ethnic or religious profiling," said the Democratic congressman. "A person's actions should be the only thing to attract the attention of law enforcement - not a person's ethnicity or religion."

Source: The Star-Ledger