WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 9, 2014) — U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5) stated his concerns Wednesday after The Intercept reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on at least five Muslim-American leaders from 2002 to 2008.
“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. 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.”