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First POST: First They Came For the Muslims

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 9 2014

First They Came For the Muslims…

  • This is quite a lede sentence from Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, finally delivering the big story The Intercept has been working on from the Snowden files: "The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies."

  • They add: "Given that the government’s justifications for subjecting [these] U.S. citizens to surveillance remain classified, it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored, or the extent of the surveillance. It is also unclear under what legal authority it was conducted, whether the men were formally targeted under FISA warrants, and what, if anything, authorities found that permitted them to continue spying on the men for prolonged periods of time."

  • Richard Clarke, a top counterterrorism official who served on the intelligence review panel convened by the Obama administration in the wake of the Snowden disclosures, told The Intercept that had he been aware of the targeting of Americans he would have asked for more details from the Justice Department during that review.

  • Greenwald and Hussain also report that a training memo found in the files instructs intelligence personnel on how to format an internal memo justifying such surveillance, offering the following fake name as a placeholder: "Mohammed Raghead."

  • Commenting on the story, Greenwald told Kim Zetter of Wired, “This is the first time that there’s a human face on who the targets are of their most intrusive type of surveillance,…” he says. “[H]ere you really get to see who these people are who are the people worthy of their most invasive scrutiny. I think it’s important for people to judge—are these really terrorists or are these people who seem to be targeted for their political dissidence and their political activism?”

  • Dustin Volz explains in National Journal why the latest Snowden files story in the Washington Post, detailing how the NSA's foreign surveillance program captures far more data of "incidental" Internet users than actual targets, is upsetting efforts by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to buttress that program.

  • Ben Quinn and James Ball report on the US military's research into social networks like Twitter and their use in social movements like Occupy and the Arab Spring.

  • In Forbes, Parmy Olsen reports on how Google is using Waze, the social traffic app, to get cities to give it more data from their own transportation systems.

  • Om Malik writes, "With Big Data Comes Big Responsibility," warning, "Can we trust these Medici of modern times to regulate themselves and do the right thing? How long before the pressure of Wall Street and its incessant quarterly demands makes Facebook or Google go to thinkable places?"

  • Not too many people are making their way through political books like Hillary Clinton's current "Hard Choices," according to Philip Bump's analysis of highlighting by people reading the book on their Kindle. (Of course, this kind of analysis could also just show that serious readers don't read books on Kindles.)

  • Speaking of reading, The New York Times' Jim Dwyer reports from the steps of a public library branch in the Bronx about kids who go there at night to take advantage of the free WiFi that seeps outside the building, explaining the need behind NY Public Library's new program to enable kids to check out portable WiFi service. Our own Andrew Rasiej, who lobbied the library's president Anthony Marx about this idea, gets the soundbite: "I asked him, 'You let people check out books, why don't you let them check out the Internet'?"

  • Rebekah Campbell, the CEO of Australian social shopping app Posse, explains why she took her team out of their trendy co-working space in New York City.

  • Some people are having fun on the Twitters making up fake .gop domain names (like to mark the launch of the Republican Party's new top level domain, and Adam Weinstein of Gawker IS ON IT.

  • Uber has reached an agreement with the New York Attorney General's office to cap its surge pricing of taxis during emergencies.

  • Ethan Zuckerman, director of MIT's Center for Civic Media and one of the best and smartest blogger-activist-thinkers I know, opens up about his struggles with depression in a must-read post titled, "Life, only moderately messed up: understanding high-functioning depression."