DETROIT (AP) – The CIA wants to resume running recruitment ads for linguists that were pulled from a Detroit-area Arab-American newspaper’s website after the paper ran an Associated Press story on the government helping to spy on Muslim-Americans, the publisher said Thursday.
The CIA has since said it will restart the ads, Osama Siblani told the AP, although he said he has yet to decide If he will publish them. The agency confirmed that it had resubmitted the ads and said it regretted any “misunderstanding.”
The ads had been running eight days when Gravity Media, an ad agency representing the CIA, called the Arab-American News in Dearborn, demanding that the banner ads be removed, Siblani said.
A months-long investigation by the AP, published in August, revealed that the New York Police Department dispatched undercover officers into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program. Police also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
The AP also determined that police officials scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims. Many of the operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The CIA told the AP in August that the agency does not spy inside the United States and described the relationship with the NYPD as collaborative.
Siblani said that after his paper ran the story, Gravity Media told Arab-American News to stop running the recruitment ads.
“They kept calling saying you have to remove it now, our client is putting pressure on us,” Siblani said. “The CIA was very angry – not happy with the article we ran.”
CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said in an email Thursday that “the CIA has a long history of advertising with the Arab-American News, and we regret any misunderstandings in this instance.”
“Freedom of the press is one of the many American values that CIA officers work to defend every day,” she added.
Siblani declined to say how much the CIA has paid his paper to run the ads.
“The money is insignificant,” he said. “We’re talking about a very important principle that has been broken. If we are fighting for free speech around the world, I don’t think those tax dollars should dictate or limit the freedom of the press in this country.”
The CIA has periodically run ads over the past few years in the weekly newspaper, which caters to one of the largest Arab-American communities in the United States.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.