Latest NSA Leaks Include Racial Slurs

Over the past year, the NSA has faced a lot of criticism for overstepping the constitution to spy on its own citizens. Now the secretive organization faces a new charge: racism.

The latest leaks to come from Edward Snowden demonstrate just how poorly government agencies view Muslims–even peaceful Muslims who are American citizens.

In training materials, the NSA went so far as to refer to a hypothetical target of surveillance as “Mohammed Raghead.” It’s the kind of thing that would never be tolerated in a document that could be accessed by the public. However, since these classified papers are shrouded in secrecy, why not have a little “fun” with some racial slurs?

Though some might consider racial slurs minor in the grand scheme of all of the abuses of power perpetuated by the NSA, the Snowden leaks are indicative of greater systematic problems. While seemingly all Americans are subject to these unconstitutional surveillance practices, the newly revealed documents show just how closely government agencies are watching Muslims in the United States.

The leak includes the names of five American Muslims who faced “sustained surveillance” for their activism, which generally amounted to promoting civil liberties within their communities and not the “terrorism” that the NSA allegedly suspected. In fact, none of the targets were ever charged with a crime–before or after the surveillance.

An NSA spokesperson was unwilling to verify whether the leaked documents were even real, but did say, “Any use of racial or ethnic stereotypes, slurs, or other similar language by employees is both unacceptable and inconsistent with NSA policy and core values.”

However there was no apology for or condemnation of spying on the Muslim community in general, presumably because they know they can get away with it. Indeed, many in the media have focused on the use of the slur rather than the institutionalized racism the NSA exhibits on the whole. The idea that calling someone a name is wrong while excusing the NSA for treating a whole group of innocent people like criminals is pathetic.

“The federal government has targeted Americans, even those who have served their country in the military and government, simply because of their faith or religious heritage,” said Muslim Advocates, an American law firm, in a public statement. “The report clearly documents how biased training by the FBI leads to biased surveillance.”

Much like the NYPD, which was similarly caught monitoring Muslim residents to collect terrorism intelligence despite having no ties to terrorists, the NSA is guilty of profiling and banked on a lack of accountability to get away with it. While the “raghead” slur isn’t necessary to see the racism at play, it leaves no mistake just how bigoted the American surveillance state is and how the people in charge are — behind the scenes — more concerned with upholding stereotypes than liberties.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

This is so sad.

Maureen Hawkins
Maureen Hawkins4 years ago

The FBI trained them? What a surprise! Just as the FBI treated Martin Luther King and Civil Rights activists, by which they meant anyone who had even been heard speaking positively about Civil Rights. Nothing has changed.

Ben Oscarsito
Ben O4 years ago

OK, I'll say it one more time; -NSA, get yourselves a life!

Nimue P.

Not surprising.

Nancy Gizuk
Nancy Gizuk4 years ago

I WISH I could say I'm shocked. 😢

Deborah W.
Deborah W4 years ago

Unbelievable the number of "leaks" isn't it? Split and divide trumps unity more now than ever beforeand, and continues to expand as government feeds off the outcries as freedom regresses ... how far? Until not longer reversible?

Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

Doesn't surprise me at all.

JL A4 years ago

Time to put the NSA under some meaningful oversight that restrains their rampant disregard for all constitutional rights.

Anne M.
anne M4 years ago

What else can one expect from a pile of trash that refuses to get a real job and instead makes a career of spying on everybody and his cousin around the world?

s M.
S M4 years ago

No wonder USA thinks it can do what it wants that destructive and amoral to the civil society of the Middle East in their own cause of power, oil and Israeli dominance.