The NSA has been monitoring the online sexual activity of Muslims as part of a plan to discredit "radicalizers," according to a report in the Huffington Post based on a classified document provided by Edward Snowden.
The document identified six targets, all of them Muslim. None are accused of being active in terror plots, and one is described as a "U.S. person," which suggests he's either a citizen or a legal resident of the United States, affording him, in theory, greater protection against NSA spying. Officials from the Justice Department, the DEA, Department of Commerce, and others were sent copies of the document from the NSA.
The data was collected in an attempt to subvert the alleged recruiting efforts of any "radicals" by highlighting their hypocrisy, including the viewing of "sexually explicit material online" and "using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls."
From the report: "A previous SIGINT" — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — "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."
From the Huffington Post:
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.
Intelligence officials have expressed support for the program's principals.
"Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence," said Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, in an email to the Huffington Post.
Others, including the American Civil Liberties Union and, presumably, everyone who watches porn, disagrees. "Wherever you are, the NSA's databases store information about your political views, your medical history, your intimate relationships and your activities online," Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ALCU, said. "The NSA says this personal information won't be abused, but these documents show that the NSA probably defines 'abuse' very narrowly."
It's not known if the NSA followed through on its plans to discredit the six targets, either by contacting them privately as a sort of blackmail or by releasing the information publicly. Below are screengrabs of the document, via the Huffington Post.
[Top Image via AP]