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
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 article also quotes a former
It isn't clear whether any or all of the men were subjected to surveillance under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That 1978 law requires the government to demonstrate to a special court that there is probable cause that an American citizen or permanent resident is an agent of a foreign power or terrorist organization. (It's possible that there can be probable cause to subject someone to surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes without there being probable cause to charge him with a crime.)
The notion that the FBI would target innocent individuals because of their views isn't fantastic in light of the agency's past activities, and profiling of Muslims was an unfortunate aspect of the official reaction to