Edward Snowden may be in Russia but his presence is being felt in the US after a document he leaked revealed the identities of individuals Uncle Sam is keeping a close eye on.
US government agencies are in the hot seat once again for spying on their own people and The Intercept has proof. In an article published by the news organization, five Americans were identified from a spreadsheet Edward Snowden leaked to Glenn Greenwald containing 7,485 email addresses tagged by the NSA as surveillance targets from 2002 to 2008. The document didn't list names but The Intercept identified some targets using their email addresses. Most on the list were foreigners but 202 have been noted to belong to US citizens.
The five Americans identified in the document include: Agha Saeed, a former political science professor tenured with the California State University and American Muslim civil liberties champion; Hooshang Amirahmadi, a professor at Rutgers University; Nihad Awad, executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties group; Asim Ghafoor, a high-profile attorney for Al Haramain and others with cases involving national security; and Faisal Gill, former top advisor to the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush Administration.
"It is entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights," said the office of the Director of National Intelligence in a statement.
The office also maintains that the United States is unlike other nations who monitor the communications of their citizens to suppress criticism or compromise people based on their religion, sexual orientation, gender, race or ethnicity.
While there may be truth to the claim that the identified individuals were merely caught in the net and not intentionally targeted, it was also reported that at least two of the individuals named are notable because they have been involved with the US government in the past. Gill, in particular, became a JAG officer in the military after he got his law degree before working for the Department of Homeland Security for which he was given top-secret security clearance.
A connection with the American Muslim Council is what probably tagged him, but Gill was cleared after two investigations were done. Secret surveillance on him began after he started a legal practice with Ghafoor, who also had government connections having worked in Capitol Hill before becoming a lobbyist for the Muslim community.