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Just up at TheIntercept, which had maintained radio silence since June 18, is this article that, I presume, is the blockbuster or Fourth of July fireworks display that Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden had been promoting with much fanfare for approximately the last month. Credit where credit is due, this seems to be the most thoroughly-researched, well-written, least-hyperbolized, most interesting and most important article that Greenwald has written about the Snowden saga. I give credit for that to co-author Murtaza Hussain, who seems to want to report all of the facts, and not just those that are helpful to one viewpoint, and let the chips fall where they may.

Basically, the article describes how five leading Muslim-Americans were surveilled by the NSA during the Bush years. The article begins,

The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• 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;

• 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.

The article then provides video interviews with these men and tells us a little bit about each. To Greenwald's (and most probably Hussain's) credit, the piece does note that the NSA surveillance ended for at least two of the five in 2008. Surveillance of the other three presumably ended in 2008 as well, as there is an "Expiration Date" for the surveillances noted on the NSA's logs. There is no explanation, however, of why, if Snowden stole these documents in 2013, the record of these surveillances stops in 2008.

Additionally, the authors admitted that they had no idea how these five individuals were swept up in the NSA's dragnet at the time, but the NSA apparently investigated, found no cause for alarm, and dropped their surveillance. The authors noted,

Given that the government’s justifications for subjecting Gill and the other U.S. citizens to surveillance remain classified, it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored, or the extent of the surveillance. It is also unclear under what legal authority it was conducted, whether the men were formally targeted under FISA warrants, and what, if anything, authorities found that permitted them to continue spying on the men for prolonged periods of time....

The surveilance of these individuals certainly raises important questions. What did they do, if anything, to get swept up in an NSA dragnet? Was it just their heritage? Did Greenwald find anything after 2008, anything less than six years old, showing the surveillance of seemingly innocuous Americans? What laws were changed in the interim to make it harder (or easier) to surveil Americans?

I would like to compliment Greenwald on his new writing style/hiring practices.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not much of a blockbuster (5+ / 0-)

    …in my opinion. Certainly not a game-changer. In fact, I can understand how these guys were targeted briefly.

    Thanks for reporting it, Tortmaster. As always, well done.

    As an aside, I was amused that this weekend Snowden refused to meet with the Germans about their victimness over big bad NSA spying -- because he says the Germans are too lame and are just doing their hysterics for show.

    He seems to hold the Germans in contempt for speaking out of both sides of their mouths, when they themselves are the one abusing their own people.

    In a letter to German lawmakers, Snowden's Berlin-based lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, dismissed their request for an informal meeting with the former intelligence official in Russia.

    There was "no room or need for an oral, 'informal' meeting in Moscow," Kaleck wrote, adding that a hearing "in the desired form" is only possible in Germany.

    The German parliamentary inquiry was set up to investigate alleged operations by the US National Security Agency (NSA), under which Snowden had worked as a contractor.

    They'll have to do much better than this. They need a way to show harm and subsequent compromise and corruption of the body of the entire  us congress through extortion to get my attention.

    Conscious evolution is a human right. Demand your rights, today!

    by Pluto on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 02:18:59 AM PDT

    •  Also, it would have been couched in those terms. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tortmaster, Thomas Twinnings

      There's been so much hype around the "final, most damning revelation" that to just slip it into the newsstream without announcing it as such doesn't make sense.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

      by nailbender on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 03:00:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had not seen that ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl, Gary Norton, Pluto

      ... regarding Snowden and Germany. Thanks for posting, Pluto.

      As for the current story from TheIntercept, it tantalizes, but cannot bring home the goods. The key issue is what caused the Bush Administration to surveil those gentlemen. If there was a good reason, even if it turned out to be innocent after all, that may be okay. If it was because they were Muslim-Americans, then it is not. If it was a mistake, then that would be important to know in order to remedy the defect.

      The fact that there were bigots in the Bush Administration is not news. I suspect there were bigots in the Bush household, just careful ones.  

      I do appreciate that this was less sensationalized than previous stories. For example, the discussion about how NSA agents wake up judges at 2am in the morning in their homes for warrants sounded exactly like what your local cops and local judges do.  

      My dog likes me because I'm salty. Not salty like a pirate. Salty like a pretzel.

      by Tortmaster on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 03:10:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you have a link that shows this happened (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob

      this weekend?

      The DW stories are old.

      I mean, it gets boring, you know. The Germans are too coward to engage in military actions they US and NATO would want them to be in. Then, if they comply, they do it half-heartedly, if they don't comply, they are just cowards and by-standers. Whatever.

      What do you expect Germany should say to the NSA surveillance and spy revelations. There is a new one this morning. Say nothing? Say something? Do what?

      So far, it's the usual reactions. Whatever Germany does or doesn't do or say, is wrong. Somehow it gets boring.

      We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

      by mimi on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 06:13:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The dateline is June 20th n/t (0+ / 0-)

        I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

        by Just Bob on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 08:25:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Mimi, you are right. (0+ / 0-)

        It was discussed during the weekend in articles about the July 3rd arrest of a US spy in Germany, although it happened nearly two weeks ago.

        Today, another US spy has been arrested. Today, also, Snowden requested an extension of his asylum in Russia.

        Conscious evolution is a human right. Demand your rights, today!

        by Pluto on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 01:53:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder if this is some kind of test or warning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Tortmaster, Anak

    because the American public is not going to get riled over this.  They have been so conditioned to all Muslims are a problem that they will just think this was prudent.

    Most people were expecting what we would consider media big names.  Unless this is some kind of message to the government--this will go no where on the outrage meter.

  •  will be reading later (17+ / 0-)

    ... but attending to other morning matters first.

    fyi, GG's morning tweet feed has this:

    and also this:

    If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

    by Lady Libertine on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 04:52:31 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for posting, Lady Libertine. (0+ / 0-)

      The actual NSA logs show an "Expiration Date" for the surveillance in 2008 for all five of the gentlemen. There does not appear to be any date after 2008. That seems strange to me since Edward Snowden stole the files in 2013.

      Although I don't know, and I'll be the first to admit that, it sure looks like an historical record and not a continuing surveillance log.

      Another thing I wanted to point out is that Greenwald selected these people for the purpose of showing possible bias on the part of the Bush Administration. I don't doubt that bigots were working in the Bush Administration, that's been proved over and over again. But, it would be handy to know what percentage of the people surveilled were Muslim-Americans. I imagine other surveillances were ongoing at the time, so a percentage would be helpful.

      Finally, this article, like the whole NSA affair, shows again, to me, why it is important to have a Democrat in the White House. Greenwald can tweet out a vague "there's still surveillance" going on or something along those lines, but every reasonable person understands that. The question is this: Is the surveillance reasonable and Constitutional? That question isn't even answered for these five gentlemen.

      We know that President Bush did not get court orders for his NSA telephone metadata collection program; President Obama got court orders for his. We also know that President Bush had sloppy minimization procedures for his metadata collection program; President Obama had those minimization procedures updated by the Attorney General's Office. Most significantly, we know that the Bush NSA used actual warrantless wiretaps, and the Obama Administration has not. (Or, at least there's been no evidence of them.)

      My dog likes me because I'm salty. Not salty like a pirate. Salty like a pretzel.

      by Tortmaster on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 09:03:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yet another story about the NSA (6+ / 0-)

    exceeding its purview.

    An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

    by Thomas Twinnings on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 05:50:47 AM PDT

    •  We don't really know that. It's about five people. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We don't know if there were good reasons for surveillance and what protocols were followed. It doesn't look like there were good reasons but the article doesn't provide enough information to judge. And we'll probably never know.

    •  Snowdenitse are pissed about NSA acting WITHIN (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      its purview, i.e. electronically spying on other nations, which is the reason Truman created NSA in the first place.  Snowden talks on how NSA should only spy on military installations of nations we are at war with.  He doesn't even want us spying on civilian leaders of nations we are at war with, only their military installations , that's how big a naive fool he is.  FDR and Truman would ROFL at this guy.

      So let's deal with the facts: The Snowdenists aren't concerned about whether NSA acts within its purview or not, they hate NSA regardless of that.  

      Second, this wasn't bulk surveillance, this was targeted surveillance.  You guys assume these subjects were targeted simply because they were Muslim, you assume that the FISA court was presented no probable cause for which to grant a warrant.   But you have zero proof of that.

  •  if an atty challenging US govnt spied upon, ACLU (12+ / 0-)

    article on this article in wired

    if they could put the head of leading Muslim organization in the US, someone who met with presidents and served on commissions, why not me or ACLU?

    The surveillance of Nihad Awad is also startling, given his prominence working with the U.S. government to improve relations with the Muslim-American community. Although he served on a civil liberties panel for Vice President Al Gore, met with Presidents Clinton and Bush and other officials on behalf of the Muslim-American community and participated in a press conference with Bush after the 9/11 attacks, the government began monitoring his email communication in 2005 for reasons that, as The Intercept lays them out, appear to be convoluted and tenuous.

    It’s hard to imagine the government placing the head of the American Civil Liberties Union—a group that also defends the interests of Muslim Americans—under similar surveillance.

    Awad told Greenwald that he thinks all Americans should be outraged and concerned by the surveillance. “Because if it is Muslim Americans today, it is going to be them next,” he said.

    Latest Snowden Leaks: FBI Targeted Muslim-American Lawyers
  •  If all Greenwald's reporting was this good, this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    debate would be a lot more productive.

  •  Nothing past 2008. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When the law was changed.  

    Are you telling me GG doesn't know this?  Doesn't know the law changed?  Doesn't know that he is, at best, misleading the public if not outright lying?  

    No.  This is no blockbuster.  

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