Question: In light of what is known about the pervasiveness of the NSA surveillance program, shouldn’t it now be considered scandalous that mosques are off-limits to the FBI, even though it’s ‘old news’?
With respect to the NSA scandal, let’s set aside the issue of criminality relative to leaker Edward Snowden’s behavior and focus on the federal government’s behavior. First, we know that the IRS deliberately profiled Jewish, Christian, and conservative Tea Party groups for discrimination; it’s a matter of public record. We also know that the foundation of a radical Muslim who just so happens to be the half-brother of the President of the United States, received preferential, expeditious, retroactive, and illegal customer service from the IRS in general, Lois Lerner in particular.
Contrast that with what should have been viewed as a scandal long ago – mosques being off-limits to the FBI.
The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won’t snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.
That’s right, the government’s sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.
Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.
Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.
No more surveillance of mosques? Isn’t the revelation that all Americans are being surveilled the primary takeaway from the details of the NSA program? So, if mosques are exempt from FBI surveillance, are they also exempt from NSA surveillance? If the answer to that question is yes, we may just have a reality that parallels what happened at the IRS – Islamic fundamentalists are given preferential treatment while law-abiding citizens are profiled.
As Derek Satya Khanna writes in the very first sentence of his National Review piece:
The NSA data-collection scandal might have been received very differently if it had not come on top of all the other Obama scandals.
Perhaps there is no one better qualified to talk about the subject of surveillance than Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who worked on Able Danger, a surveillance program designed to identify Islamic terrorists. The plug was pulled on AD one year before 9/11; the bureaucracy attempted to ruin Shaffer when he claimed the program had identified Mohamed Atta before the program was shut down. Here is Shaffer on June 9th – before anyone had even heard of Snowden – explaining why the NSA PRISM program is a bad idea: