The Intercept finally publishes its "finale": Naming five US Muslims monitored by Bush administration

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on July 8, 2014

From The News Desk

Just days after the Washington Post revealed that Americans were being surveilled by the NSA and FBI, Pierre Omidyar's The Intercept has finally published its own version -- and expansion -- of the story, naming five Muslim Americans who appeared on "a spreadsheet titled 'FISA recap' [containing] 7,485 email addresses apparently monitored between 2002 and 2008."

They are:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

  • Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
  • Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
  • Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country. "FISA" refers to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which permits the Justice Department to monitor America citizens as well as foreigners if there is probably cause to believe that the Americans are agents of a foreign power involved in espionage, sabotage or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed, usually every 90 days.

The document's 2008 end date means all of the surveillance occurred during the Bush administration.  It's unclear from the Intercept's report whether the Snowden cache also contained the names of any Americans monitored after Barack Obama's 2008 election.

From the Intercept report:

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens. Intercept staffer Glenn Greenwald had previously pledged to publish the story on 30th June, describing it as  "the finale... A big missing piece.” But later said he had decided to hold it due to “last-minute claims” by the US Government. Pando asked a spokesperson for the Intercept to explain the nature of these claims but they have not returned multiple requests for comment.

It is also unclear how many of the 202 Americans reportedly listed on the spreadsheet are known to the Intercept but not being named.

In their story, the Intercept says:

During the course of multiple conversations with The Intercept, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence urged against publication of any surveillance targets.
The full article is here.