NSA tracking porn visits to discredit enemies

According to a document leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA has been tracking visits to porn sites and other questionable activities as a way to discredit or perhaps blackmail suspected Muslim terrorists.  Read about it after the jump.  Is this a brilliant tactic that should be expanded to combat the pornography plague or a dangerous precedent-setting invasion of privacy?  Or what?

From BBC News – NSA ‘planned to discredit radicals over web-porn use’:

The US authorities have studied online sexual activity and suggested exposing porn site visits as a way to discredit people who spread radical views, the Huffington Post news site has reported.

It published a document, leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, identifying two Muslims said to be vulnerable to accusations of “online promiscuity”.

An official said this was unsurprising.

But campaign group Privacy International called it “frightening”.

“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 radicalise others to violence,” Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, told the Huffington Post.

Privacy International said: “This is not the first time we’ve seen States use intimate and private information of an individual who holds views the government doesn’t agree with, and exploit this information to undermine an individual’s message.” . . .

The latest of Mr Snowden’s leaked document is dated October 2012 and says it was distributed by the office of the director of the NSA to other US government officials.

It names six Muslims whom it describes as “prominent, globally resonating foreign radicalisers” about whom surveillance efforts had revealed potential “vulnerabilities that can be exploited”.

It says the information is largely based on gathered “Sunni extremist communications”, including material sourced by the FBI.

“Some of the vulnerabilities, if exposed, would likely call into question a radicaliser’s devotion to the jihadist cause, leading to the degradation or loss of his authority,” it says.

One example is evidence of the target “viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls”.

Others include proof of the target:

  • using donations to pay personal expenses
  • charging exorbitant speaking fees
  • using questionable sources and contradictory language in public messages

None of the six individuals who appear in the report are accused of being directly involved in terrorism.

But the document says one of the two said to have been involved in “online promiscuity” had previously been imprisoned for inciting hatred against non-Muslims, and the other had been involved in promoting al-Qaeda propaganda.

Of the four other targets, one is said to be vulnerable to being exposed for being “attracted to fame” and another for having a “glamorous lifestyle”.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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