Seven-million strong American Muslim community was alarmed at Wednesday's revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) covertly spied on leading American Muslims, including lawyers, and civil rights activists.
In Glenn Greenwald's article published Wednesday (July 9, 2014) in The Intercept, it was revealed that thousands of community leaders, organizations, and activists were targeted by the NSA.
Greenwald details the NSA's activities in targeting Arab and Muslim Americans, along with respective community organizations, and civil rights groups solely due to political beliefs or religious affiliation.
According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:
" Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.
" Dr. Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
" Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;
" Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;
" Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
These individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called "FISA recap"--short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008.
A three-month investigation by The Intercept--including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process--reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.
The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives, the Intercept report said adding: All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press.
Arab and Muslim civil advocacy groups joined a coalition of 45 civil rights, human rights, privacy rights, and faith-based organizations in a letter to President Obama that calls on the administration to provide "a full public accounting of these practices" and to address the problematic infringement of civil liberties.
The coalition also repeated its call for the U.S. Department of Justice to strengthen its official guidance on the use of race by federal law enforcement agencies.
Part of the letter says:
"The First Look report is troubling because it arises in this broader context of abuse. Documents obtained through an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act request show that the FBI has been mapping a broad spectrum of communities, including American Muslim communities, the African American community and Latino American communities, without any basis for individualized suspicion.