- New York 07/09/2014 by Linda Perry (Intercept, Sparrow Media, WBAI)
Nihad Awad, Executive Director, CAIR
"I was not aware that I was under surveillance until recently and i'm outraged."
Nihad Awad is one of five leading Muslim-Americans targeted by the NSA, the National Security Agency. He’s co-founder and Executive Director of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"I'm really angry that despite all the work we have been doing in our communities to serve the nation, to serve our communities, we are treated with suspicion."
The spying on Awad and other Muslim leaders came to light in a report published today in The Intercept. It's from a three month investigation led by Glen Greenwald, based on archives supplied by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. It show 7,485 email addresses. They include email accounts belonging to five high-profile Muslim-Americans.
"I just don't know why. I mean I have done everything in my life to be patriotic."
Faisal Gill is a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office. He held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.
"The fact that I've been so surveiled in spite of doing all that, I mean it just goes to show you the hysteria that everybody feels, that every Muslim is harboring these feelings, and that's just not the case."
The NSA program is supposed to be aimed at foreign terrorists and other national security threats. Officials at the National Security Agency and the Justice Department are denying that American activists are being targeted with surveillance for criticizing the government. They say Americans are only given email surveillance if there is probable cause.
Civil Rights lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights said the NSA’s surveillance of Nihad Awad and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fits the same pattern as the FBI surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, Jesse Jackson, Malcolm X, and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.