NSA planned to use surveillance to discredit people

A new revelation from Edward Snowden published by Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan says that the NSA has been using the browsing habits of people as pertains to sex to try and discredit them.

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

Yet Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said these revelations give rise to serious concerns about abuse. “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,” he said.

“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.”

Jaffer, however, warned that the lessons of history ought to compel serious concern that a “president will ask the NSA to use the fruits of surveillance to discredit a political opponent, journalist or human rights activist.”

“The NSA has used its power that way in the past and it would be naïve to think it couldn’t use its power that way in the future,” he said.

It should have long been obvious to anyone other than the most clueless and devoted acolytes of the national security state that the information gained from the widespread and indiscriminate spying on people would be used to attack anyone they perceived as enemies using any tool they have.

It is only a matter of time before we learn that the NSA has used the material it has collected to blackmail people. In the NSA, we are dealing with an organization that, along with the White House, is so supremely confident that they should be the sole judges of what is right that they have lost all sense of right and wrong.


  1. says

    Why do we think that this hasn’t already happened? Eliot Spitzner and David Petraeus might be examples of how the surveillance state can be used to pull down potentially threatening public figures.

  2. says

    Ah, but there’s a difference. Petraeus was just stupid got caught with his pants down. Spitzer was actually doing his job…or rather, he was doing the Security and Exchange Commission’s job for them, holding wall street’s feet to the fire. That was something the 1%ers couldn’t abide.

  3. Pteryxx says

    …this is what they call radicalism?

    An attached appendix lists the “argument” each surveillance target has made that the NSA says constitutes radicalism, as well the personal “vulnerabilities” the agency believes would leave the targets “open to credibility challenges” if exposed.

    One target’s offending argument is that “Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam,” and a vulnerability listed against him is “online promiscuity.” Another target, a foreign citizen the NSA describes as a “respected academic,” holds the offending view that “offensive jihad is justified,” and his vulnerabilities are listed as “online promiscuity” and “publishes articles without checking facts.” A third targeted radical is described as a “well-known media celebrity” based in the Middle East who argues that “the U.S perpetrated the 9/11 attack.” Under vulnerabilities, he is said to lead “a glamorous lifestyle.” A fourth target, who argues that “the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself” is said to be vulnerable to accusations of “deceitful use of funds.” The document expresses the hope that revealing damaging information about the individuals could undermine their perceived “devotion to the jihadist cause.”

    The Christian right wing says more extreme things every day; just checking Brayton’s blog alone.

  4. says

    Petraeus was just stupid got caught with his pants down

    Why did the FBI investigate him for an extramarital affair? What’s the big deal about that? And where did they get all his old Emails and txts?

  5. Lofty says

    I wonder how many people the NSA employs for data analysis? I suppose they have no difficulty in finding staff willing to do their dirty work.

  6. says

    Shit, depending on wording, it’s absolutely true that the USA brought the 9/11 attacks on itself, in that they were a logical extension of endless meddling and imperialism in the middle east.

  7. Nick Gotts says

    They rely on contractors – which is how Edward Snowden came by the material he’s leaked. Even if one were stupid enough to trust the NSA, what about all the other organisations and individuals who have access to the data they collect? the NSA has proved that it cannot secure that data.

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