CAIR: Broad Coalition Urges 'Full Public Accounting' for Government Surveillance of U.S. Muslim Leaders

Jul 09, 2014, 13:06 ET from Council on American-Islamic Relations

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today joined with a broad-based coalition of 45 organizations,* led by the ACLU, in insisting that President Obama "provide a full public accounting" of surveillance practices of American Muslim leaders.

SEE: Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

According to new revelations by journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, CAIR's national executive director was among those reported to be targeted for surveillance. Addressing that apparent targeting, CAIR said: "This is an outrageous continuation of civil rights era surveillance of minority community leadership by government elements who see threats in all patriotic dissent."

[NOTE: In response to the new revelations, the White House called for a review of training and policy materials for racial or religious bias, but has not yet offered a position on the surveillance issue. SEE: White House: Racial Slurs in NSA Intelligence Material 'Unacceptable']

SEE: Coalition Letter to President Obama

In a letter to President Obama, the coalition wrote in part:

"The First Look report is troubling because it arises in this broader context of abuse. Documents obtained through an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act request show that the FBI has been mapping a broad spectrum of communities, including American Muslim communities, the African American community and Latino American communities, without any basis for individualized suspicion. Under the guise of community outreach, the FBI targeted mosques and Muslim community organizations for intelligence gathering. It has pressured law-abiding American Muslims to become informants against their own communities, often in coercive circumstances. It has also stigmatized innocent Muslims by placing them on the No Fly List and other watch lists. In short, the government's domestic counterterrorism policies treat entire minority communities as suspect, and American Muslims have borne the brunt of government suspicion, stigma and abuse.

"These practices hurt not only American Muslims, but all communities that expect law enforcement to serve and protect America's diverse population equally, without discrimination. They strike the bedrock of democracy: that no one should grow up fearful of law enforcement, scared to exercise the rights to freedom of speech, association and worship."

* Signatories to the coalition letter include:
* Access
* American Civil Liberties Union
* American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
* Amnesty International
* Arab American Institute
* Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
* Brennan Center for Justice
* Center for Community Change
* Center for Constitutional Rights
* Council on American-Islamic Relations
* Defending Dissent Foundation
* Free Press
* Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
* Human Rights Campaign
* Human Rights Watch
* Interfaith Alliance
* Islamic Society of North America
* Lambda Legal
* Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
* Muslim Advocates
* Muslim League Fund of America
* Muslim Public Affairs Council
* National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
* Legal Defense Fund
* National Center for Lesbian Rights
* National Center for Transgender Equality
* National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
* National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
* National Immigration Law Center
* National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
* National Lawyers Guild
* National Network for Arab American Communities
* National Religious Campaign Against Torture
* National Security Network
* National Urban League
* New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute
* New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
* Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
* Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
* Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
* The Sikh Coalition
* South Asian Americans Leading Together
* Transgender Law Center
* T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
* United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

In its own statement CAIR added:

"The Obama administration continues to allow some government agencies to treat all Americans as objects of suspicion. It is time for a full public accounting regarding surveillance of American minorities. This includes explaining the use of the blatantly prejudiced 'Mohammad Raghead' as a placeholder in a document describing how to properly format surveillance justification."

This past weekend the Washington Post revealed that the vast majority of the information in a cache of NSA intercepted communications contained within the Snowden documents were not from intended surveillance targets. Among the files were "medical records sent from one family member to another, resumes from job hunters and academic transcripts of school children."

WASHINGTON POST: 'In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber The Foreigners Who Are'

Other groups have issued statements independent of the coalition letter:

The NSA revelations continue to shock  

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
ADC Responds to Glenn Greenwald's NSA Revelations  

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
NSA Surveillance of Muslim Leader Fits Same Pattern as FBI Spying on MLK, Say Civil Rights Attorneys

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
EFF Statement on Intercept Article Revealing Surveillance of Muslim Activists  

Muslim Advocates (MA)
Statement on Report by Glenn Greenwald on NSA Spying

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, E-Mail:; CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 202-742-6410, 720-251-0425, E-mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations