Bombshell revelations from journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain expose extensive government spying on public figures, including a political candidate, a civil rights activist, lawyers, and academics
Government spying on law-abiding public figures is tearing apart the fabric of our democracy
OpenMedia: July 8, 2014
In the wake of this evening’s bombshell revelations from journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, citizens are demanding action to rein in the power of spy agencies like the U.S. NSA and Canada’s CSEC. In an in-depth piece on their website The Intercept, Greenwald and Hussain exposed how the NSA spied extensively on the private lives of prominent public figures in the American-Muslim community. Victims include a senior political candidate for the U.S. Republican Party, high-profile academics, lawyers, and the head of a large civil rights organization.
The article revealed that:
- The NSA targeted over 7,400 email addresses for in-depth surveillance, 202 of which were explicitly identified as belonging to U.S. citizens.
- The Americans targeted by the NSA for surveillance came from a variety of backgrounds, and held diverse political views. Among the targets was Faisal Gill, a former Navy officer who stood as a candidate for the U.S. Republican Party in Virginia and worked in the George W. Bush White House.
- Also targeted was Rutgers University Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi and former California State University Professor Agha Saeed.
- Other victims include Nihad Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim-American civil rights group in the U.S.
The news comes on the heels of recent revelations from the Washington Post, which showed that NSA spying operations intercept far more data from innocent people than from targeted individuals. The daily lives of over 10,000 innocent people were tracked and catalogued extensively, including intimate details of their personal lives.
“Tonight’s revelations prove what we’ve long suspected – that our spy agencies are running hugely invasive and reckless surveillance operations against their own citizens,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “This kind of spying tears at the very fabric of our democracy and we’re already seeing how it can affect law-abiding citizens in their daily lives. Clearly government spying operations are out-of-control and must be reined in.”
Anderson continued: “Sadly, here in Canada the government is actually in the midst of ramming through Bill C-13, legislation that would increase warrantless surveillance of innocent Canadians and which the Supreme Court has just said is likely unconstitutional. There are reports of sensitive private information being collected on law-abiding Canadians without their knowledge and then distributed to employers without their consent. This is a daily concern for many people now. Thanks to this government we have a growing privacy deficit despite the fact that Canadians are increasingly concerned about their data security. The Conservatives are quickly turning into the anti-privacy party, and it’s time for them to change course”
Canadians are asking questions about the extent of CSEC’s involvement with NSA spying operations, given the long history of close cooperation between CSEC and the NSA, and recently revealed proof that CSEC spied on thousands of innocent Canadian air travellers. OpenMedia.ca, which is leading a huge non-partisan coalition calling for greater privacy protections, says the government needs to come clean about how many Canadians have been swept up in CSEC databases.
OpenMedia.ca has been working with over 50 major organizations in the Protect our Privacy Coalition to demand effective legal measures to safeguard Canadians’ privacy from government spies. The BC Civil Liberties Association, a coalition member, has also launched a constitutional challenge that aims to put a stop to all illegal government spying on Canadians.
CSEC has over 2000 employees and an annual budget of over $420 million. Taxpayers are spending over $4 billion to build and operate a lavish new CSEC headquarters, which the CBC has described as a “spy palace” and as “the most expensive government building ever built”.
Over 40,000 people have pledged their support to Privacy Coalition calls for new legislation to protect citizens’ privacy from government spying, with more signing on every day at http://OurPrivacy.ca