“I think all Americans should be worried about NSA surveillance and the targeting of American Muslims. Because if it is American Muslims today, it is going to be them next.”
— Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose emails were tapped by the U.S. government from 2006 to 2008, according to an Intercept report based on the Edward Snowden leaks — the leaks that have shown how the NSA and other spying agencies have gained unprecedented powers from technological tools and advances. Awad is one of the Muslim Americans whose names were revealed in the report as targets of the secret spying; others include academics and lawyers focusing on civil rights for Muslims.
The report is based on a leaked spreadsheet showing 7,845 email addresses — many belonging to foreigners, but some belonging to prominent Americans such as Awad and others — that were monitored between 2002 and 2008. The Intercept also mentions a document instructing intelligence-agency employees how to format memos requesting permission to spy on someone under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “In the place where the target’s real name would go, the memo offers a fake name as a placeholder: ‘Mohammed Raghead.’ ”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice issued a joint statement this morning in response to the Intercept report: “It is entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights.”
Illustration from MCT