The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, or HIDTA. It's unclear exactly how much was spent on surveillance of Muslims because the HIDTA program has little oversight.
The Associated Press confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. It also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy oversees the HIDTA grant program.
Carney said the drug policy office has no authority to direct, manage or supervise any law enforcement operations, including the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims.
"This is not an administration program or a White House program," Carney said. "This is the New York Police Department."
The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods complicates its efforts to stay out of the fray over the controversial counterterrorism programs.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was unapologetic. He said that some local politicians who questioned the NYPD's methods were pandering to voters in forthcoming elections, and that others - including New Jersey Gov. Christie, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker - were wrong to question the department.
"Not everybody is going to be happy with everything the police department does, that's the nature of our business," Kelly said. "But our primary mission, our primary goal is to keep this city safe, to save lives."
The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union called for a federal investigation into the White House funds paying for some of the NYPD's counterterrorism activities.