Tag Archives: Greenwald

Breaking: Greenwald Reveals 5 Americans Targeted By NSA

On Wednesday, journalist Glenn Greenwald has finally named names. And those names, as reported by The Intercept, include five politically active Muslim-Americans, who didn’t actually pose threats to national security.

These American citizens were targeted for surveillance between 2002 and 2008 due to their political activity. The Intercept reported that the surveillance was not “based solely” on speech.

“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,” the NSA’s statement read.

The five names are:

  • Faisal Gill, a 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.

According to the Intercept, “The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.”

These e-mail addresses were among 7,485 others belonging to foreigners with ties to Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

“The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press,” wrote Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain.

“I just don’t know why,” Gill told the Intercept. Gill’s AOL and Yahoo! email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. “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.”

 Watch video below:

Greenwald To Release Info on NSA Spying Targets

In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald said there are still bombshells to be revealed about the National Security Agency’s spying.

“I genuinely believe that the story that is the biggest one and will have the biggest impact and will shape how the last 10 months are viewed by history is the story on which we’re currently working that will hopefully be ready within 4 to 8 weeks,” he said.

“One of the missing pieces is on whom is the NSA spying in America, who are they targeting and for what purpose. Who are these people that they view as sufficient threats that they read their e-mail. What’s the pattern of people. Are they political dissidents? Are they critics of U.S. foreign policy? Are they actual terrorists? And that’s the reporting that remains to be done,” he explained.

The piece like the rest of his articles related to the Edward Snowden leaks will be published in The Guardian newspaper.

Greenwald is also promoting his new book on the topic, entitled “No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the U.S. Surveillance State.”

In an excerpt published by The Guardian, Greenwald writes about the justification of spying: “A prime justification for surveillance – that it’s for the benefit of the population – relies on projecting a view of the world that divides citizens into categories of good people and bad people.”

He contends that the government has led the public to believe that its attention was focused on the “bad people,” but through the Snowden leaks that is simply not true.

“Collect it all, sniff it all, process it all, exploit it all. Not collect the communications of terrorists or just people doing bad things, but collect it all. They collect billions with a b of e-mails and cell phone calls every day,” explained Greenwald on “The Colbert Report.”

And logically, those all can’t be from Al-Queda.

The NSA’s focus on insane data collection should change, and it might. The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the USA Freedom Act, which would scale back the U.S. government’s domestic surveillance programs.

According to U.S. News & World Report, “If passed into law, the USA Freedom Act – as amended in committee – would allow the NSA to collect the phone records of individuals and two “hops” through their contacts if officials can convince a judge there’s reasonable suspicion a targeted individual is a terrorist. The bill would ban the government from invoking pen register or National Security Letter statutes to conduct bulk phone-record collection.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)  said in a statement that the USA Freedom Act is a step in the right direction. But the proposed legislation does has its flaws.

“The USA FREEDOM Act includes a definition of call detail records which excludes cell site location data, a provision that will help safeguard the location privacy of millions of Americans from mass NSA surveillance. However, we remain concerned that the bill allows prospective collection—collection of records that have not yet been created—up to 180 days,” said the EFF.

The Center for Democracy & Technology wrote a letter calling out potential changes as well. (See letter PDF.) “While the bill makes significant progress    in ending bulk collection, we strongly    believe    that several technical corrections and clarifications to the bill are required if Congress is to help ensure the bill language is not misinterpreted and its stated goal of ending bulk collection is met.”

The USA Freedom Act now goes to the House. And we wait and speculate for Greenwald’s next article. Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of Glenn Greenwald’s interview.

Plenty More NSA-Leaked Info to Come says Greenwald; Anti-NSA Bill with 117 Sponsors

To spy or not to spy, that debate is what’s playing out around the world and particularly in the US since whistleblower Edward Snowden’s storm of National Security Agency (NSA) leaks to journalists and those alike. It would seem that debate over intrusive government spying has yet to be concluded. And with already over 200,000 documents released by Snowden, what’s to come is leaving officials on the edge of their seats.

Giving some indication as to what comes next, Snowden’s story-breaking journalist Glenn Greenwald told Chaos Communication Congress (CCC), an annual conference for international hackers and computer gurus, that information about the NSA is still coming, and a lot of it. The former Guardian journalist told listeners that while it’s important to cover these leaks, it’s as equally important to understand exactly what they’re writing about.

Other speakers included Julian Assange who phoned in to discuss privacy and government issues. Assange told the conference that privacy advocates and hackers should take it upon themselves to fight against government surveillance. And although the outlook for privacy backers may look grim, considering the massive leakage by Snowden showing the destruction of privacy, Greenwald had positive words in the end.

Greenwald said, “One of most significant outcomes of the last few months has been the increased awareness of the importance of encryption and privacy,” referring to the sudden transition of awareness as a “remarkable sea change”. Realizing the loss of privacy and the growth of the surveillance state, the former Guardian journalist noted that democratic processes would not change proper policy, calling the system a duped one.

The Brazilian-based journalist offered a different message of change. Greenwald explained, “When it’s no longer we in fear of them, but they in fear of us, that’s when these policies will change.” While refraining from going into detail, Greenwald made sure to point out that Snowden’s actions were in the defense of civil liberty advocates, and that making such moves costed Snowden, however, for Brazil or Germany to pick up Snowden’s tab would cost much less.

Calling it an “ethical” and “moral” obligation, Greenwald explained that Germany and Brazil should return the favor of protecting rights, just as Snowden did for both countries.

As Greenwald, his accomplices and Snowden continue to prepare and release more information, lawmakers in the House are using the leaks to push tightening legislation on the NSA. The USA Freedom Act, which has been heavily promoted by Rep. Justin Amash, offers somewhat of a reel-in reform by policymakers. All together, the bill stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online-Monitoring Act”.

Interestingly, the USA Freedom Act would open up a position in the NSA for a “special advocate” who would oversee operations, on a pro-privacy basis. Packed with a large, but not an entirely sharp bite, the bill would require the NSA to stop bulk meta-data collection, throw transparency on the FISA courts by making the attorney general release court rulings to the public and give internet and telephone companies the green light to release information regarding court orders received by the FISA courts.

The House bill is chalking up many co-sponsors as well. In the beginning of December, about 70 co-sponsors backed the USA Freedom Act, and now, in the end of December, nearly 120 co-sponsors are on board. Introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the bill has also seen staunch support by freshman Congressman Thomas Massie.

With combined efforts from whistleblower Snowden, journalists and anyone in between, along with lawmaker support, it would appear reigning in the NSA is around the corner. On the other hand, the question must be asked: Has government surveillance grown so large in uses and special interests that reeling in the constructed walls of secret courts, massive data collection and international surveillance relationships near impossible?