back to article Snowden leaks latest: NSA, FBI g-men spied on Muslim-American chiefs

New documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden confirm that the NSA and the FBI spy on Muslim-American leaders, including Republican Party politicians and military veterans. The Intercept reports that the Feds are using tactics and techniques intended for catching terrorists and spies to monitor the email accounts of …


  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    To match the general hyphenated-American usage, wouldn't that imply that the ancestors of these people came from, um, Muslia?

    What's wrong with 'American Muslims', which both does away with the clumsy phraseology and removes the implicit suggestion that they have a long foreign ancestry?

    1. Mike Smith
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Muslim-Americans?

      "wouldn't that imply that the ancestors of these people came from, um, Muslia?"

      Alternatively, it could be read to suggest that Muslim-Americans are, you know, not quite real Americans.

      Which could help Uncle Sam no end next time it decides that public xenophobia needs a boost.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        Re: Muslim-Americans?

        "Alternatively, it could be read to suggest that Muslim-Americans are, you know, not quite real Americans."

        Total nonsense - it's a very common thing here and I never met anyone who wouldn't be proud of her/his ancestry, who would be offended by hearing, say, 'Irish-American', would take it as a pejorative.

        1. Gray

          Re: Muslim-Americans?

          It's pure bullshit! The use of the hyphenated xxx-American is totally intended to diminish the standing of the person/group so labeled. Otherwise, the appropriate label would be simply, "American."

          America is a racist nation. Even our vehement denial of racism confirms the fact. Every non-caucasian person must needs be labeled to establish their place in the hierarchy, i.e., "Native" American, "African" American, "Jewish" American, "Muslim" American, and so on. To say this is not pejorative labeling is to say that segrated schools truly offered "equal" education to all.

          One interesting experiment I've conducted in recent times is to enquire of my fellow citizens: "Do you think it appropriate that a Muslim should be elected President?" I'll leave the responses to your fertile imagination.

          And of course, the NSA/FBI/et al are playing on these racist phobias in their labeling and monitoring. The scorpions cannot deny their nature.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Muslim-Americans?

            I have never been to a country that was not racist or colour orientated. I lived for sometime in the Middle East. On only my second or third day in the Middle East I was told by someone who was a shade of dark mahogany that a suicide victim did not matter because they were black.

            Oh that's all right then? Not in my book!

            As for other racial and religious issues, in some work places lines had to be drawn to keep the different sects, religions and races apart to prevent fights breaking out between them.

            So for all those who think such issues are a USA or Europe issue, (as I had been taught); open your eyes it is pervasive. It is a destructive and dangerous issue across the globe and it affects far more than good neighbour relationships as it damages a whole swathes of life.

            On another side to the matter; when a target is monitored, who is trying to contact them may be of more interest than who they contact. If monitoring of my communications could help identify the steady stream of fraudsters and hucksters who contact me and could disrupt their quasi criminal acts, where do I sign up please?

            1. Tom 13

              Re: a USA or Europe issue

              I'm inclined to say it is mostly a USA or Europe issue for pretty much the reasons you've outlined: so far we are the only places that have advanced the issue far enough that you get a fair bit of mixing without wholesale riots breaking out to the point that you have to segregate according to race to keep the peace. It's not that we are more evil than other places, it is that we are less.

              In addition to your notes about monitoring, I have to re-emphasize the end note on the article. If you are engaged in counter-spying for your country, you go looking for exactly the sorts of people you'd expect to be infiltrating. I'd expect the infiltrator to try to build as patriotic a resume as possible to get to the best information he can. It's what Philby and Hiss did.

          2. Risky

            Re: Muslim-Americans?

            So racist that 10 years ago you'd have lazy newspaper articles sayign that America would never elect a black president. Then they did, and more critically his race wasn't an issue at the election, it was about all the usual stuff.

            1. Tom 13

              Re: his race wasn't an issue at the election

              I have to disagree with that. It's just that the racism doesn't fit the current LSM template. If The Big 0 were white instead of black, he never would have been elected. When Bill Clinton said someone like him would have been bringing in the coffee in most political organizations, it was one of the few truths he ever told. I don't think Bill Clinton is particularly racist. I think he sees and instantaneously evaluates everyone on the basis of what that person can do for him politically. Women... well that's a different story. But even then it would be his SECOND evaluation of them.

          3. scarletherring

            Re: Muslim-Americans?

            > Do you think it appropriate that a Muslim should be elected President?

            Well, I think it was Sam Harris (but might be wrong about that) who suggested that they would much prefer a Muslim President over an atheist one.

        2. Mike Smith

          Re: Muslim-Americans?

          Point taken, but it wouldn't take a lot of propaganda effort to poison that. Subtly asking the question "are you Muslim or American?" would do the trick.

          1. Ross K

            Re: Muslim-Americans?

            Point taken, but it wouldn't take a lot of propaganda effort to poison that. Subtly asking the question "are you Muslim or American?" would do the trick.

            Kinda like the "Who do you support, Rangers or Sellick?" question that Glaswegians are fond of asking in order to determine your religious persuasion?

    2. Ross K

      Re: Muslim-Americans?

      It's just a bullshit tag that helps the general populace feel a bit better about themselves when the xxxxx-Americans are discriminated against, or herded off to internment camps like the Japanese-Americans during WWII.

      1. DropBear

        Re: Muslim-Americans?

        "...or herded off to internment camps like the Japanese-Americans..."

        I initially misread that as "internet camps", and for a tiny fraction of a second my mind ran away with that, trying to imagine what marvellously wondrous places of whimsy those might be; then the built-in auto-correct hit, and I was rather disappointed...

    3. Levente Szileszky

      Re: Muslim-Americans?

      When the subject is about roots there are Jewish-American etc terms so it isn't really about any origin country. OTOH I agree, American Muslims is far more correct term but also far more vulnerable for abuse, from both sides.

    4. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Muslim-Americans?

      "the implicit suggestion that they have a long foreign ancestry?", All human beings have a long foreign ancestry?.

    5. Scroticus Canis

      Re: Muslim-Americans? -"long foreign ancestry"

      All but the American-Americans (a.k.a Native Americans) have a long foreign ancestry. If your ancestral line hasn't been there for over 516 years then you come from colonial origins. End of.

      Anyway, 5 Muslims out of 7,485 email addresses does strike me as racial profiling of the worst order. NOT!

      Of course there would be more Muslims than those 5, but are we to believe there were no other "prominent" people on the list who aren't Muslim? Is there a word for a "racist antiracist" (apart from hypocrite-bastard)?

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Muslim president

    The same organisations used to spy on black-American leaders - and do much more than spy - leading to a black president,

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Muslim president

      Are you saying the NSA and FBI were responsible for Obama being black, or Obama being President?

  3. Fazal Majid

    Ghafoor has known about this for a while, and has been at the forefront of exposing warrantless surveillance, hence the retaliation. Here is his lawyer six years ago recounting the Kafkaesque process of suing the government for it:

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprised

    The USA locked up lots of Japanes people who were US Citizens in the USA during World War 2.

    You are guilty until proven innocent.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Not surprised

      But without those camps we wouldn't have George Takei. At least not George Takei as a retired Starfleet Officer, playwright and all around hilarious person.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Not surprised

      If only they had tortured the enemy non-combatants rounded up in 1939 we would have had information about Japanese fleet deployments at Midway and the political response to the A bomb.

    3. FormerKowloonTonger

      Re: Not surprised

      Indeed, by that shy, shrinking violet of a liberal president named Franklin Delano Roosevelt. How times have changed.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: that shy, shrinking violet of a liberal president

        Fascists have never worried about killing each other. They only worry about making sure they are the ones who strike first.

    4. Hans 1

      Re: Not surprised

      Yeah, same for the commies ...

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    Does it really matter

    They also spy on the President, the vice-president and anyone else that dirt can be thrown at when they no longer need them.

    It's the American, European, Asian, Arab, African , South American way of life : in other circles it's called Politics...

    1. DropBear

      Re: Does it really matter

      "It's the American, European, Asian, Arab, African , South American way of life : in other circles it's called Politics..."

      ...because the proper term - 'Byzantine' - is trademarked by the homonymous empire, and they're known to sue at the drop of a hat.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foreign power

    It should be noted that "foreign power" is a wide term under FISA, and can include any "foreign-based political organization, not substantially composed of United States persons".

    So when Putin does it as an open, clearly defined law with a legally watertight definition of foreign power this somehow is an outrage against democracy. When we do it, this somehow is fine... Sorry... it is probably me being thick today... Maybe I need another coffee... Or another definition of hypocrisy and double standards (the Oxford dictionary one has been rewritten).

    1. Slawek

      Re: Foreign power

      Does Putin go to court to get approval for the surveillance?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Foreign power

        > Does Putin go to court to get approval for the surveillance?

        Surveillance in Russia is much the same as in most of Western Europe, with the exception of the UK where even your local councillor can wiretap you at a whim. In other words, surveillance may be carried out by the usual suspects (police, customs, tax office, and parliamentary and executive security services--including the Interior Ministry but not the president or the prime minister), and it requires a warrant from a competent court (if you're going to say "well, that's just rubber-stamping", please look at what Western European courts do). Surveillance may commence before the warrant is approved, I believe, but no systematic collection of data may be legally carried out, and neither are telecom providers required to archive data or metadata as Directive 2006/24/EC (so enthusiastically supported by the British government) required EU ISPs to do. Speaking of metadata, that can be accessed without a warrant, same as in the EU.

        Perhaps you should visit Russia sometime. You might find that it's not just a cold, but also a cool place. :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Foreign power

          > Surveillance in Russia is much the same as in most of Western Europe

          I see there are a few downvotes on that post (which turns out to be mine: no wonder I was mostly agreeing with it when I started to read :b). Anyway, given the lack of explanation I presume those are from people who are somehow shocked by the idea that perhaps a) things elsewhere are not that different to what one sees at home, and that b) things elsewhere could be anything other than what we're told by the media, especially television.

          As a long-time expat I see this type of reactions all the time back home. People will rather believe, even on points of fact, some lifestyle magazine article than what they're told by someone who lives there, knows the culture, speaks the language fluently, and happens to be a trusted friend of yours! (I'm not referring to Russia here, but same story)

          Our propaganda is subtle but incredibly effective, same as our censorship (cf. "Veline e silenzio", U. Eco, 2009).

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Foreign power

        >Does Putin go to court to get approval for the surveillance?

        No, because Putin is a brutal dictator.

        Here we go to court and the court says that anything we want to do is legal - that's because we are a free democracy

      3. Hans 1

        Re: Foreign power

        > Does Putin go to court to get approval for the surveillance?

        ????? It is a secret court, they approve everything requested ... they are known by the name "court" to fool naïve citizens like you.

        Slawek, I just looked at the other posts you wrote ... Christ, I think you need to quit watching CNN and Fox news. Go read some books, from the US AND from abroad, preferably history books and you will notice that the exact same event is not described in the same way, depending on where the book was written. That will be your first hint to what you are fed daily, propaganda. Go learn how to read between the lines ...

    2. Mark 85

      Re: Foreign power

      There's no hypocrisy.. everyone gets spied upon by everyone else. Friends, enemies, ordinary folks just trying to make a living and raise a family. They're all grist for the mill of "intelligence", both foreign and domestic. What country you're in doesn't matter. Everyone wants to know everything. As technology grows, it will only get worse.

  7. Beachrider

    This is not EASY stuff...

    Governments are correctly taken-to-task for abuse of people, even when they are attempting to protect some people from other people. The Japanese Internment of 100,000 people in four US states during WWII is one example. Kipling's "White Man's Burden" was a rallying cry at the dawn of the 20th century, is horribly condescending now.

    The criticism for the actions is just. A lot of important, valuable gains have been made from actions that would be horrible to do today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is not EASY stuff...

      Beachrider, your point can easily be taken out of context or used as a pretext to justify abuses. I also do not necessarily agree with it to start with, but you have made an interesting insight nonetheless. That's what the +1 is for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is not EASY stuff...

        Experiments done by Mengele on concentration camp prisoners, the results of which advanced the US aerospace industry. E.g.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Oh did you think there was some kind of "due process" involved.

    This is National Security we're talking about here.

    1. ian 22

      Re: Oh did you think there was some kind of "due process" involved.

      Are you saying the Constitution is not a suicide pact?

      I've heard that somewhere...

  9. Joe User

    To put it simply . . .

    You're all guilty until proven innocent (whatever our definition of "innocent" might be at that time).

  10. Gis Bun

    5 out of how many?

    So they spied on 5 Muslim-Americans. That is a tiny percentage of the 7500+ who were spied on. Who are the rest? Priests? Garbage collectors? WWE officials?

  11. TheColinous

    Last's month's reveal of 800 babies of unwed mothers in Tuam in Ireland says that we should put every single Christian everywhere under constant surveillance.

    But of course, that is "isolated groups and individuals, and we can't tar EVERY christian with the same brush!" Muslims are different. Just because we say so. No matter how atheist or secular they are, they must be watched. They are secret jihadists.

    Do I need the sarcasm tag?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Catholics have been official suppliers of terrorism to Her Majesties govt for 100years, killed more people in "the troubles" than died in 9/11 and kept the Army tied up on British streets for 2 generations.

      A bunch of muslims come along and blow up a couple of buses and suddenly they get all the attention - it's just not fair.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bring back the Catholics!

        I was much happier being stopped at police checkpoints in London in the late-80's but being free of the oppressive surveillance we're under today.

        Absolutely no sarcasm! Really, life was much better. Even with Maggie breathing.

        1. Don Jefe

          That's always the problem with internal conflicts, they cause too much trouble and sooner or later your slutty cousin ends up marrying one of the troublemakers (or whatever) and it gets awkward to deal with, especially with the Internet around. That's why everybody knows it's best to find enemies in a far off land, ideally that look different and speak a different language, if you're going to artificially support your economy by militarizing your heavy industry sector.

          The Middle Easterners turned out to be a really shitty choice for bad guys. They've got zero style or exciting media presence. Beheadings? WTF is that? Your message is just lost if your propaganda has to be heavily edited to get on the news. You're just going to piss people off with that sort of shit.

          I liked the USSR. As enemies go, snappily dressed guys marching around in snow with mobile ICBM platforms and great color coordination is hard to beat. The Commies may be gone, but now we've got an actual comic book supervillain who hunts apex predators with a crossbow while he's shirtless. That's what we need to take advantage of. No religious crap, no 2,000 year old real estate disputes, just full scale global annihilation one Big Red Button away. Everybody can get behind that. Plus there's a real chance an entire new field of anti-Russia blockbuster films would emerge. Movies have been stuck on repeat since the Commies went broke you know.

  12. phil dude

    We are all humans first....

    everything else second. Religious dogma is not genetic. No matter how much the mullahs, rabbis, priests, lamas, or other institutional PR might like to think it can be inherited.

    Labels are not helpful, and generally are a way of trying to cast one group of humans as being "less than" some other group of humans.

    The founding fathers were well aware of this, which is why "we hold these truths to be self evident" is such an amazing observation.

    Yeah, ok it has taken centuries to bring the rest of humanity under the tent. Labelling someone by their nationality is fine, but it is important to realise that noone has a choice where they are born.

    One of the biggest problems in society (western or otherwise) is that govts and their agencies, like to think they are above the law...


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We are all humans first....

      Surely Evolution - at least the social version - has to lead to the dissolution of all borders. That that is what we should be aiming at.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: We are all humans first....

        Dissolution of borders will not happen without actually having a single government to 'rule' the planet. I don't know about you, but I don't know any government, except with me as Supreme Chancellor of Earth, that I want in charge of everything.

        Borders are like giving your kids separate bedrooms. You don't have to do it, but it greatly reduces the chances of the weaker ones getting killed in a violent territorial dispute.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: We are all humans first....

          ".....Borders are like giving your kids separate bedrooms. You don't have to do it, but it greatly reduces the chances of the weaker ones getting killed in a violent territorial dispute." Yeah, have you noticed that? First, when they're young, they don't mind each other tottering about in each other's rooms to play. Then they get more territorial as they grow into teens, to the point where violence ensues if one teen sticks their head into the other's room unannounced. But, finally, you they leave home to find digs of their own, and you get the fun of converting their rooms into your study/mancave and a gymn! Now, if only we could persuade certain countries it was time to leave the planet and look for their own digs.....

        2. Tom 13

          Re:except with me as Supreme Chancellor of Earth

          I wouldn't want that type of government either. Too many decisions I'd need to make for other people. So, much as our current one has its problems, I'll stick with it.


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