NSA Targeting: 'Nobody Is Safe When One Group Is Singled Out'

Rights organizations responded harshly to reports that the National Security Agency and FBI covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans using secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

While the revelations, reported by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept at midnight Wednesday, are distasteful and reprehensible, they are not particularly surprising, advocates say.

“Since 9/11, American-Muslim communities have been fair game for law enforcement tactics of the sort that were used against African American civil rights groups in the 1960s and ’70s,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, in a statement. “By targeting the leaders of these communities for secret full scale monitoring, the FBI has taken this tactic to another level. How can any of us who work to advance justice for American Muslims feel free to do our work if we fear the government is watching our every step?”

In an op-ed following the story’s publication, Linda Sarsour, national advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), writes that the revelations “should strike fear into the heart of every American who values our freedoms.”

Sarsour continues:

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On Wednesday, a coalition of 45 rights groups, organized by the American Civil Liberties Union, sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for a public accounting of The Intercept report and urging his administration to strengthen the Department of Justice’s Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, known as “DOJ Guidance.”