Posted by on September 02, 2014 in Blog

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Since President Obama’s January speech on government surveillance and despite numerous incidents of discrimination by law enforcement and other agencies, the Arab American community in particular continues to be dealt numerous blows when it comes to surveillance and profiling. Whether online or on-the-ground, these threats and infringements seriously undermine faith in our government and leaders.

Earlier this summer, The Intercept revealed that the NSA and FBI closely monitored American Muslims for the apparent reason that they are Muslim. After the bombshell report, stories emerged on the FBI’s practices against Muslims – Human Rights Watch detailed that FBI “sting” operations against American Muslims “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement.

Just this month, reports leaked and later disclosed in the Intercept showed that Dearborn, Michigan was second on the government’s terror watch list for recording the second highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists.” In a recent interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden revealed that private communications, including emails and phone calls of Arab Americans, including Palestinian Americans, were being passed on to Israeli intelligence by the NSA.

Adding insult to injury, little has been done to curb these infringements. After a watered-down version of the USA Freedom Act passed the House in May, an updated version was released that paves the way for stricter surveillance restrictions if passed and would drastically limit the bulk data that can be collected by the government. As Congress reconvenes, the future of the Freedom Act is unclear.

On profiling, there is even less movement. Numerous organizations, including AAI, have called for a review and update to the 2003 Department of Justice’s Guidance to protect against the targeting of entire communities based on their race, religion, ethnicity or national origin. The End Racial Profiling Act must also be passed. There is little progress on racial and religious profiling at points of entry along the U.S. border and U.S. airports, particularly on watch lists and no-fly lists.

As we contend with these new realities and threats to the civil liberties of all Americans, AAI’s Executive Director Maya Berry and the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Greg Nojeim sat down for a live-stream discussion and Q&A on these threats and the way forward.

Maya and Greg took questions and comments live. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AAIChat. Be sure to follow AAI on Twitter.

This is an important issue for all who still believe in an America where such extraordinary abuses would not be tolerated. As Americans, we must continue to demand more accountability and oversight for U.S. agencies.

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