NSA Monitored Online Sexual Activity of Targets to Discredit Them

Thursday, November 28, 2013
(AP graphic)

The National Security Agency (NSA) has collected information on the online pornography habits and other sexual activity of individuals considered potential threats or problems to U.S. security.


Using a secret document released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Huffington Post reported that the spy agency considered discrediting half a dozen Muslims with details of porn websites they visited.


The targets, all living outside the country, were selected because of their efforts to radicalize others against the West. At least one was a “U.S. person,” meaning they were either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.


None of the targeted individuals were accused of being involved in terror plots, according to the document.


The NSA document—dated October 3, 2012, and noted as having originated with the agency’s director—said the NSA could exploit the vulnerabilities of individuals “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”


When asked to comment on the document, Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, told The Huffington Post in an email: “Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence.”


Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the NSA effort showed how the agency could abuse information it collects through its surveillance of individuals’ online habits.


“It’s important to remember that the NSA’s surveillance activities are anything but narrowly focused -- the agency is collecting massive amounts of sensitive information about virtually everyone,” Jaffer told The Huffington Post.


“Wherever you are, the NSA’s databases store information about your political views, your medical history, your intimate relationships and your activities online,” he added. “The NSA says this personal information won’t be abused, but these documents show that the NSA probably defines ‘abuse’ very narrowly.”


Journalist James Bamford, who has covered the NSA since the 1980s, told The Huffington Post that this latest revelation brings to mind government surveillance that had been conducted against Martin Luther King, Jr.


“The NSA's operation is eerily similar to the FBI’s operations under J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s where the bureau used wiretapping to discover vulnerabilities, such as sexual activity, to ‘neutralize’their targets,” he said. “And back then, the NSA was also used to do the eavesdropping on King and others through its Operation Minaret. A later review declared the NSA’s program ‘disreputable if not outright illegal.’”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit 'Radicalizers' (by Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher and Ryan Grim; Huffington Post)

NSA Collects and Stores Web History of Millions of Users, Creates Profiles of U.S. Citizens (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)           


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