WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reacted to The Intercept's report that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on at least five Muslim-American leaders from 2002 to 2008.
“Americans should be alarmed by reports that the NSA may be unjustly targeting Muslim American community leaders,” Rep. Grijalva said. “This is a country that believes in the freedom of religion – there is no excuse for the government to target citizens for exercising that right. Unfortunately, tactics like this achieve the opposite of their purported intent. Instead of making us safer, they breed mistrust and breakdown communication between the public and its defenders.”
“I share the concerns of many Americans who feel the NSA has violated their civil liberties by monitoring them without cause. The Intercept report is particularly troubling because it suggests that Americans were targeted because of their faith and civic engagement. Unfortunately, the NYPD’s spying on Muslims with the CIA's help and the FBI's use of hateful anti-Muslim training materials makes this concern legitimate.
“An American’s faith does not give law enforcement reasonable suspicion to violate their constitutional rights," Rep. Ellison said. "Suspicious behavior indicating criminal behavior should be the basis for attracting law enforcement surveillance—not a person’s religion. Profiling based on religion breeds distrust and resentment in communities that are potential partners in the fight against crime. I am requesting a full explanation as to why these Americans were targeted and hope the practice officially ended in 2008.
“Muslim-Americans continue to face bigotry and hatred, but the NSA’s former spying practices undermines our entire nation’s progress towards greater inclusion. Undue surveillance has a chilling effect in all communities. It tells young boys and girls who want to serve their country in the military or in elected office to stay out of the public space. This is wrong. We cannot allow fear and hatred to drown the inclusive promise of our nation. The United States Government must protect all Americans no matter what they believe, the color of their skin, where they’re from or who they love."
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