The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.
This one was blowing up the interwebs yesterday, and I finally got ‘round to reading all of it (and watching the video interviews, which add another facet to the entire piece).
First of all, let me say to the mainstream media: this is how to do journalism. And also to all the First Look doubters and the “where’s Glenn” reactionaries: he was working on this intensely researched article for three months. That’s right - real, actual investigative work takes an immense amount of time. Clickable, pointless content (the likes of which you see flooding facebook and tumblr and everywhere else) takes minutes. But I digress.
This article, combined with the WaPo’s recent Snowden revelations, ought to create the game-changing moment this whole “debate” really needs. Now that we know the US government spied on huge amounts of people outside the supposed “targets” of NSA surveillance and that the NSA purposely surveilled these prominent Muslim Americans, isn’t it time to admit the national security state has gotten out of control? As Glenn and Murtaza clearly document, while these men were involved in activism and legal work on behalf of Muslims, they personally had zero ties to any Terrorist activities. Some of them worked with our own federal government, for &^%’s sake! When do we admit to ourselves that the long national nightmare of accusation before proof has spiraled almost to the point of no return?
However, this article does give me hope for our journalistic future. I think we are getting closer than ever to the point in which internet journalism will supplant the traditional fourth estate and do much more to hold our reckless federal government and intelligence apparatus in check. This article also provides a very helpful service by diving into the legal machinations perpetrated by the Justice Department and FBI when they look for FISA warrants to conduct these surveillance activities. Glenn and Murtaza spoke with a lot of people close to this process and really did their part to paint a full picture of how these warrants are requested and put in front of the FISA court (way more information than I have seen anywhere else). They show how these intelligence people do their best to ensure the warrants are justified, but also how definitions within the FISA law can be manipulated to ensure the government can monitor American citizens.
Bravo to the Intercept for continuing to produce high-caliber journalism from the Snowden disclosures. I’ll say it again: this is how to do journalism.