It’s finally happened: Glenn Greenwald has started to release names of those who have been targeted by unlawful NSA surveillance. And surprise, surprise: all five of the names released are those of prominent Muslim-Americans.
The surveillance program is no longer simply* a blatant disregard of American privacy and the Fourth Amendment, but now has become one of the most extensive cases of racial profiling in recent American history. These men range from professors and attorneys to high-clearance government officials to directors of civil rights organizations. The five names released were (via The Intercept):
- Faisal Gill, 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.
How can any politician in their right mind still support this vast government overreach? This program is NOT protecting american citizens, but targeting upstanding, contributing members of society. Apparently, being a conservative or a Muslim is enough for the government to spy on you without even getting a warrant, much less having probable cause.
“I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.” — Faisal Gill
Whatever your thoughts on Edward Snowden and how this abuse was revealed, we can no longer overlook such a flagrant molestation of the law.
So what’s the big deal?
Some may say: “Well, if they weren’t doing anything wrong, why does it matter that the government monitored their activity without a warrant?” It matters because granting access to all personal information gives the government far too much power. The Fourth Amendment was designed to protect us from government abuse of power. Saying you don’t need to worry about government overreach if you’re not a criminal is tantamount to saying you don’t need rights if you’re not doing anything wrong.
The government does not exist to control every aspect of our lives, but rather to protect our lives, liberties, and property. Persecuting citizens purely based on religious or political affiliation not only fails to protect any of these essential rights, but opens up the opportunity for widespread government corruption.
*I do not intend to imply superseding civil liberties on the part of the government is a trivial injustice. This is a serious crime, but has been a part of this country for far too long. Unfortunately, our right to privacy is viewed as a thing of the past and it’s obstruction has become an accepted facet of everyday life.
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