WASHINGTON, July 10. /ITAR-TASS/. A scandal is breaking in the USA, triggered by reports that the country’s secret services were unreasonably spying on well-known representatives of the American Muslim community, who were by no means linked to terrorists or extremists.
The Intercept, an online publication, reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI “covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans”. Among them were several well-known civil rights activists, scientists and lawyers. In the article, the authors are using information made public by ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden.
The spying was carried out through programs designed for revealing terrorists and foreign intelligence agents. In total, Snowden’s documents, to which The Intercept is referring, point to the fact that between 2002 and 2008, NSA and FBI were monitoring 7485 different email addresses.
July 9, 45 American human rights organizations sent a letter to President Barack Obama criticizing the actions of the country’s secret services and demanding to put an end to this practice.
“We call on your Administration to provide a full public accounting of these practices and to strengthen protections against the infringement of civil liberties and human rights. We also request a meeting with you, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director James Comey to discuss these matters,” the letter says.
Meanwhile, a joint statement by National Intelligence Director James Clapper and the US Department of Justice says that “it is entirely false that US 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”. The competent agencies of the USA do not monitor people’s electronic communications “in order to suppress criticism or to put people at a disadvantage based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion,” the officials stress.
Amid the new exposure of the secret services’ activities, some human rights activists are already mentioning the McCarthyism era. They express special outrage over the fact that among the documents published by The Intercept, there was one that contained direct insults aimed at the Muslims. National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a comment on the situation that “upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested” that Clapper “undertake an assessment of intelligence community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance”.