HuffPo reports that the NSA "has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others...." Those targeted include a US person. The basis for arguing that these people were "radicalizers" is tenuous, probably applying to the majority of Middle Easterners.
Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post reports as follows:
The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others ... The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims...What was the basis for thinking that these people--none of whom did anything other than speak-- were dangerous? In one case, "a well-known media celebrity" believed that the US perpetrated the 911 attacks. And that justified using the NSA to smear him by telling people he looked at dirty pictures, or whatever. Virtually none of the contacts of these people were involved in a militant group, much less the "radicalizers" themselves.
None of the six individuals targeted by the NSA is accused in the document of being involved in terror plots. The agency believes they all currently reside outside the United States. It identifies one of them, however, as a "U.S. person," which means he is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
While Baker and others support using surveillance to tarnish the reputation of people the NSA considers "radicalizers," U.S. officials have in the past used similar tactics against civil rights leaders, labor movement activists and others.
Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI harassed activists and compiled secret files on political leaders, most notably Martin Luther King, Jr. The extent of the FBI's surveillance of political figures is still being revealed to this day....
James Bamford, a journalist who has been covering the NSA since the early 1980s, said the use of surveillance to exploit embarrassing private behavior is precisely what led to past U.S. surveillance scandals.
[ACLU's Jameel] Jaffer, however, warned that the lessons of history ought to compel serious concern that 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.
Think if the same criteria were applied to AmericanChristians who argue that killing Muslims is justified, who believe that the US brought 911 on itself or was somehow involved in the plot, or who think that an uprising against the government is justified. At a guess, that describes 20% of the American population. And in the Middle East, people with similar ideas are probably a majority.
Also note that what the NSA is doing is not just intelligence work, but propaganda. This is a worrying bit of mission creep.
Your tax dollars at work!