Posted by on July 09, 2014 in Blog

According to a news report from Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain in The Intercept, our government has been spying on American citizens. In the most specific claim yet of the federal government’s domestic surveillance program, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring the email communications of around 202 “U.S. Persons,” including the five American Muslims highlighted by The Intercept.

All five are active American citizens representing views across the partisan political spectrum. All they share in common is that they are all American Muslims.

In response to the report, the NSA issued a joint statement affirming, “No U.S. person can be the subject of FISA surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs.”

At countless meetings with government officials, we have been told that no one is targeted without cause and never based solely on his or her ethnicity or faith. These assurances, that numerous safeguards are in place to prevent abuses from occurring, ring hollow today.

The Arab American Institute has signed on to an ACLU-led coalition letter calling for the Obama Administration to provide “a full public accounting of these practices and to strengthen protections against the infringement of civil liberties and human rights.” We have also requested a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey and support the strengthening of the DOJ Guidance regarding profiling.

Arab Americans are all too familiar with the fact that the U.S. government and law enforcement have crossed the line in its profiling practices of minority communities, despite reform efforts. It is time for our government to be more transparent on these troubling revelations and provide overdue safeguards and protections. As this report demonstrates, left unchecked, this surveillance weakens the foundations of our democracy and threatens the First Amendment protected rights of all Americans.

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