Tech Freedom

Documents reveal NSA monitoring online porn viewing habits of radicals

DALLAS, November 27th, 2013 – According to a top-secret NSA document, the agency gathered records tracking the online sexual activity and pornography-viewing proclivities of “radicals” that may be influencing others through controversial speech.

The document, dated October 3rd, 2012, reveals the NSA monitored the risqué viewing habits of 6 individuals from the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Kenya, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia. One was a “U.S. person”, which could be citizen or resident.

The spying activities were designed to gain leverage over the target for potential blackmail or future humiliation. Possible areas of exploitation included any habits of “viewing sexually explicit material online” or “using sexually explicit persuasive language.” The contact lists of each target were also monitored.

The document states, “A previous SIGNIT (signals intelligence) assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent.”

In other words, the NSA has and continues to abuse its authority perversely, stalking the private lives of those that the state may find threatening.

The deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Jameel Jaffer, told the Huffington Post, “It’s important to remember that the NSA’s surveillance activities are anything but narrowly focused — the agency is collecting massive amounts of sensitive information about virtually everyone,” he said.

“Wherever you are, the NSA’s databases store information about your political views, your medical history, your intimate relationships and your activities online. The NSA says this personal information won’t be abused, but these documents show that the NSA probably defines ‘abuse’ very narrowly.”

Officials receiving these reports with the Drug Enforcement Administration and bureaucrats within the Departments of Justice, Customs, Commerce and Transportation.

The NSA concludes in the report that while those monitored were not involved in terror plots, they had the capability of “radicalizing” others through social media. “Their audiences include individuals who do not yet hold extremist views but who are susceptible to the extremist message,” the document states. No explanation as to what determines “susceptibility” was listed.

As the Huffington Post concludes, “One target’s offending argument is that “Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam,” and a vulnerability listed against him is “online promiscuity.” Another target, a foreign citizen the NSA describes as a “respected academic,” holds the offending view that “offensive jihad is justified,” and his vulnerabilities are listed as “online promiscuity” and “publishes articles without checking facts.”

A third targeted radical is described as a “well-known media celebrity” based in the Middle East who argues that “the U.S perpetrated the 9/11 attack.” Under vulnerabilities, he is said to lead “a glamorous lifestyle.” A fourth target, who argues that “the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself” is said to be vulnerable to accusations of “deceitful use of funds.” The document expresses the hope that revealing damaging information about the individuals could undermine their perceived “devotion to the jihadist cause.”

While many will excuse the NSA’s monitoring of “radical” Muslims, this disclosure raises concern for Americans that are non-violent, but vocal dissidents of government policy.

As Jameel Jaffer pointed out, “a president will ask the NSA to use the fruits of surveillance to discredit a political opponent, journalist or human rights activist. The NSA has used its power that way in the past and it would be naïve to think it couldn’t use its power that way in the future,” he said.

We know that in March 2006, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Protective Service (FPS) issued a “Protective Intelligence Bulletin” from the “Intelligence Branch” of its “Threat Management Division.” The bulletin confirmed the monitoring of online and real-time political activities of 70 organizations and their activists engaged in peaceful, social justice activism. What deemed these organizations as “threats”? Advocating positions that are in opposition to government policy.

Documents from 2012 confirm this obsession with monitoring the online activities of domestic political groups has grown. Per the Partnership for Civil Justice, “Reporting within the DHS on media coverage of First Amendment protected activities, even in the smallest places, appears to be a routine part of DHS intelligence reports.

An internal investigation conducted by the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties conducted an investigation into whether peaceful activists were being targeted unlawfully by covert government programs, swiftly concluding no power was abused. Though no agency or department in government can rightfully monitor peaceful and lawful political activities and speech of Americans, they do so without apology.

With such minimal oversight and perpetual secrecy, one must ask where the NSA draws their imaginary line in relation to stalking the online sexual habits of Islamic fundamentalists versus homegrown political dissidents. When does it become okay to stalk the sexual proclivities of “Muslims” unrelated to terrorism and not “Tea Party” activists?

Given the recent scandals surrounding the abuse of political power to punish political opponents, it may be only a matter of time for today’s dark questions are tomorrow’s headlines.

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