Spy games

A report that the U.S. government conducted electronic surveillance on five prominent Muslim Americans is troubling. It deserves a fuller response from the government than a boilerplate assurance that it doesn't choose targets of surveillance based on their political or religious views.

Relying on a spreadsheet supplied by former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden, the online news site Intercept reported that, between 2006 and 2008, the government tracked the email accounts of Faisal Gill, who had served in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and four other men, including Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, this country's largest Muslim civil rights organization.

The article suggested that the men might have been targeted for surveillance because of their religion or peaceful advocacy, although no evidence of that was given. It noted that all of the men deny involvement in terrorism. None has been charged with a crime arising from the surveillance. ...

The American Civil Liberties Union and several other organizations have called on President Obama to make a "full public accounting" of the government's surveillance practices. It's unrealistic to expect the administration to publicize classified information in specific cases, but the FBI's inspector general should inquire into the circumstances of these investigations and any broader role that religious stereotyping might be playing in the selection of targets for surveillance.

LA Times