NSA spying program targeted Muslim-American citizens, including prominent political figures.
Faisal Gill is a Pakistani-born American citizen. He moved to the U.S. in 1980, received a Bachelors Degree and JD from American University in Washington D.C., served in the United States Navy, and has been a prominent member of the Republican party in his home state of Virginia. If his academic and military records aren’t impressive enough, Gill has top secret security clearance, and served in the White House office of Homeland Security during President George W. Bush’s administration.
Gill has proudly served his government, and his country. He was also under NSA surveillance for some period between 2002 and 2008.
A new report by Glenn Greenwald, based in large part on documents and information from whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveals that the NSA and FBI closely monitored a number of Muslim-Americans, with surveillance including email monitoring.
Nearly 8,000 email addresses were monitored, many of which belonged to foreigners that the NSA believe were linked to terrorist organizations. 202 email addresses on the list are labeled as belonging to “U.S. persons,” with the other emails belonging to “non-U.S. persons,” or “unknown.”
Of the 202 U.S. persons, five are fairly prominent Muslim-Americans, including Gill. The FBI carried out surveillance on these persons on behalf of the NSA. The other four are…
Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases; Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University; Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights; Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.
Because information not leaked by Snowden is still largely classified, it’s impossible to tell if these persons were surveilled through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and by association the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It’s also unknown why these persons were under surveillance in the first place, but if the NSA went through its proper channels, the surveillance of these persons would have been renewed every 90 days. That’s four times a year for a number of years between 2002-2008.
The information could lead to lawsuits against the federal government, depending on how the surveillance was approved and carried out.
And these five Muslim-Americans are just the tip of the iceberg. If identities are ever attached to foreigners in Europe and abroad whose emails appear on Snowden’s list, there could be wide-spread and damaging ramifications down the road.