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.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.
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.
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.