TIME 2016 Election

Sen. Rand Paul Is Killing It On Twitter: 10 Tweets You Should See

Rand Paul's Twitter offers more than just politics. Here are 10 of the senator's best tweets, from selfies at Subway to Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise.

Presidential candidates simply need to tweet, but there has never really been one who knows how to do it well. Enter Kentucky’s Rand Paul, a United States Senator who calls himself #DJRandPaul on Twitter, who is already way ahead of the other prospective 2016 contenders in the Twitter primary.

In a world of staff run Twitter accounts overflowing with campaign promises and political jargon, he brings candor, absurdity and personality. Between the standard tweets about current events and congressional hearings, there are music videos, Subway photos and shots of his socks. Surely not every senator can be a DJ like Paul, but they can take note that sometimes a little entertainment value goes a long way.

For those who have not yet followed, here are some of Paul’s best Twitter moments:

He offers his unique interpretations of current events. The Kentucky senator tweeted his thoughts on the President and the NSA after Obama met with Pope Francis in Vatican City for the first time.

He snaps photos of his cardboard cutout self. Is that considered a selfie?

In his free time, when he’s not tied up with his senatorial duties, Rand is apparently a DJ – at least via Twitter.

The DJ does not rest, as evidenced by the ensuing slew of music videos posted on his Twitter feed.

Sometimes he combines his double lives, offering DJ picks with a political spin.

In one tweet, he dedicates Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), with whom he says he shares a “bromance.”

Cory Booker isn’t the only senator getting music video dedications though. Paul passively aggressively tweets not-so-subtle hints to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) about getting the vote over with already, in the form of a music video, of course.

Song lyrics never seem to be far from Rand’s mind when he’s tweeting, even at the Republican Party of Texas state convention.

But his Twitter account offers more than just music. There is also a blurry selfie at Subway, which Paul seems none too thrilled about. The other man pictured is Brad Woodhouse, the former spokesman of the Democratic National Committee, who now runs the liberal opposition research SuperPac, American Bridge.

And, the GOP socks. No words.

TIME National Security

The NSA Shared Sexually Explicit Photographs, Says Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden Gives First Interview In Russia
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview in an undisclosed location in December 2013 in Moscow. Barton Gellman/Getty Images

For some agents, Snowden says, the racy images were one of the "fringe benefits of surveillance positions"

Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower, claims that “incredibly weak” oversight of U.S. surveillance programs enabled military personnel to obtain sexually explicit photos of people under surveillance and to sometimes share them with others.

In an interview with the Guardian, Snowden talked about the impact of poor auditing systems within the NSA. He claimed many people sifting through monitored communications were 18 to 22 years old and suddenly put in a position of extraordinary responsibility that was sometimes abused.

“In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work, for example an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation but they’re extremely attractive,” said Snowden.

“So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says: ‘Oh, hey, that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way,’” he said.

Snowden, who lives in Moscow after being granted temporary asylum last year, added that this information is never reported and nobody knows about it because of inadequate oversight.

He said the interception of intimate images was “routine enough” and described it as “sort of the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.”

He added, “The mere seizure of that communication by itself was an abuse. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from the intended recipient, and given to the government without any specific authorization, without any specific need, is itself a violation of your rights.”

NSA spokeswoman Vaneé Vines gave a comment to the New York Times on the allegations. The Times paraphrased her as saying that “the agency had zero tolerance for willful violations of authority or professional standards, and that it would respond as appropriate to any credible allegations of misconduct.”

[The Guardian]

TIME 2016 Election

Why Rand Paul Is Schmoozing in Silicon Valley

Faith And Freedom Coalition Holds Policy Conference
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' Policy Conference at the Omni Shoreham hotel June 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

As Kentucky Senator Rand Paul heads to San Francisco Thursday for a series of events over the weekend, he’s looking for two things above all: cash and geeks. Paul hopes to dip into the wealth of deep pocketed tech entrepreneurs, like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel who donated more than $2.7 million in support of his father Ron Paul’s 2012 long shot presidential run. He also hopes to recruit tech savvy talent to work on his campaign, reports Politico.

As the scion of the country’s most prominent libertarian, Paul may find Silicon Valley to be fertile ground. Though the Silicon Valley tech scene has tended to support Democratic candidates and champion socially liberal causes, the libertarian streak that runs through the community has deep roots.

Many in the tech world embrace what author Steven Levy dubbed the “hacker ethic,” a value system stemming from the earliest days of computers that prizes transparency and voluntary collaboration and fundamentally distrusts any central authority.

With startups like Uber and Airbnb recently encumbered by regulatory moves at the state and local level, Paul’s libertarian vision of limited government oversight in the market has appeal. And Paul’s public displays of opposition to the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs speaks both to Silicon Valley’s libertarian bent and to concern for the bottom line of tech titans like Google and Facebook, both of which could see business hurt by NSA snooping.

But Rand Paul is a Republican, not a registered Libertarian, and he has staked out positions that put him at odds with Silicon Valley big wigs, most notably on immigration. Paul voted against last year’s grand “Gang of Eight” compromise on immigration reform, a measure championed by Fwd.us, the Silicon Valley lobbying group led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who would like to see more visas available for the kinds of highly-skilled workers Facebook likes to employ.

“So far he’s tried to have it both ways,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told TIME. “There might be some alignment on some libertarian issues but there certainly is no alignment based on immigration reform.”

With unaccompanied minors flooding across the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks, a Gallup poll out Wednesday reveals that immigration now tops the list of problems Americans see facing the country. If he is to make powerful allies among the tech titans of Silicon Valley, Paul will have to strike a delicate balance between the Zuckerberg set and the Tea Party border security hawks that first propelled him to national prominence.

In recent days, the Senator has reportedly met privately with both Thiel and Zuckerberg.

“Maybe they’re trying to woo him to their side,” Republican strategist Michael Hudome said. “He’s not to be underestimated.”

TIME U.S.-Germany spy scandal

Germany May Counter U.S. Spying With Typewriters

The use of typewriters instead of e-mail was adopted by Russia last year following similar claims of U.S espionage

+ READ ARTICLE

A leading German politician has suggested that typewriters will be used to write confidential documents, in the wake of the U.S. spying scandal.

Patrick Sensburg, head of the German parliament’s enquiry into NSA activity, said that email may soon become redundant, in an interview with the Morgenmagazin TV show Monday night.

Faced with the incredulity of the interviewer, Sensburg insisted that his announcement wasn’t a joke. He added that should German politicians adopt typewriters, they’ll be using manual, not electronic, models.

Sensburg said that ongoing U.S. monitoring of Germany necessitated the change in operation.

Berlin isn’t the first country to consider reverting to old-school technology. Germany follows in the footsteps of Russia, which reportedly took similar measures after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the Kremlin had been a target of NSA spying.

The Kremlin’s security agency spent 486,540 rubles, or around $14,162, on typewriters equipped with a unique typing pattern that allowed each document to be linked to a particular machine.

The scandal surrounding U.S. surveillance of Germany escalated last week after the top U.S. Intelligence official at the American Embassy in Berlin was ordered to leave Germany.

The CIA station chief’s exodus clipped on the heels of news reports earlier this month that a German intelligence official arrested on suspicion of spying had been working as a double agent for the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Germany Sunday to play down tensions, calling the two nations “great friends.”

TIME Apple

Chinese State Media: The iPhone Is a ‘National Security Threat’

China iPhone
Sina Corp.'s Sina Weibo microblogging service app icon is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Chinese state broadcaster has labeled the iPhone a “national security threat” to the country. CCTV, a news station whose reports can have wide influence, said that the location-tracking feature on Apple’s popular smartphone could be used to access state secrets, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple has been trying for years to gain a strong foothold in China, where it now generates more than 20 percent of its quarterly sales. The company inked a deal with China Mobile to bring the iPhone to the wireless carriers’ 760 million subscribers back in December. At that time, analysts estimated that Apple could sell 20 to 30 million iPhones in China this year alone. Right now, though, the device only has a six percent share of the smartphone market, according to the Journal.

Apple has not yet returned TIME’s request for comment on the matter.

The CCTV report could be given extra credence due to the disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden about mass global surveillance conducted by the U.S. government. According to documents provided by Snowden to the New York Times, NSA hackers created backdoors into products made by Huawei, a major Chinese telcom company, to check for connections to China’s People’s Liberation Army.

[WSJ]

TIME espionage

U.S. Spy Scandal in Germany Is Music to Putin’s Ears

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, July 8, 2014. Pool/Reuters

The rift in relations between Western allies could not have come at a better time for the Russian President

The American habit of spying on its European allies turned out to be one of the more memorable topics to come up in April when Vladimir Putin held his annual call-in show on Russian television. Toward the end of the four-hour marathon of questions for the Russian President, Putin was asked about the tone of his conversations with European leaders. He gave a wry response. “It’s hard to talk to people who speak in whispers to each other even when they’re at home, because they’re scared the Americans are eavesdropping,” Putin said, causing a wave of laughter spread across the studio audience. “Listen, I’m being serious,” he deadpanned. “I’m not kidding.”

But it must have been hard for him not to smile at the latest U.S. spying scandal this week. Germany on Thursday asked the resident spy chief at the American embassy in Berlin to leave the country after German authorities uncovered two spies in the course of a week, both of them allegedly selling secrets to the U.S. from inside the German intelligence service.

The depth of the outrage left no one laughing in the German capital, though there was no doubt something comical in the whole affair. As Thomas de Maiziere, the German Minister of Interior, put it in a statement on Thursday: “The information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable.” He did not say exactly what the information was, but German media have reported that it pertained to a parliamentary investigation into past allegations of American spying in Berlin.

“That’s so stupid that one can only cry at the foolishness of it,” the influential German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, adding in televised comments that Chancellor Angela Merkel is “not amused” by the latest scandal.

Neither is the diplomatic corps in Washington. With the West locked in its worst dispute with Russia since the Cold War, the U.S. and Europe need to form a united front against the Kremlin more now than at any point in a generation. That much was clear on Wednesday when Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, went before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the standoff with Russia.

The Senators demanded to know why the U.S. had not moved ahead with another round of sanctions to punish Russia for its military incursions in Ukraine, instead only making what Bob Corker, the committee’s ranking Republican, called “hollow threats.” Looking down at Nuland from his desk, Corker added, “It has to be very frustrating to continue to wake up in the mornings and look in the mirror and practice talking tough, but know that nothing’s going to happen.” The diplomat replied that the White House did not want to move against Russia alone and was waiting for the Europeans to come on board. “As the President has said, these sanctions will be more effective, they will be stronger, if the U.S. and Europe work together,” Nuland said.

But the following day, it became much harder for that cooperation to move ahead when Germany asked the top U.S. intelligence official in Berlin to get out. Making the case for another round of Western sanctions against Russia requires a great deal of intelligence sharing between the U.S. and its European allies. Their spy agencies need to provide each other with evidence of Russian meddling in eastern Ukraine, evidence that is often obtained through espionage. So however laughable the substance of U.S. spying in Germany may have seemed to officials in Berlin, their response has severed a key channel for exactly that kind of confidential communication with Washington.

For Russia, that is fantastic news. The state-run media in Moscow splashed the latest blow to U.S.-German ties across their headlines on Thursday evening, and as Putin has long made clear, he would love for the Europeans to reconsider their transatlantic alliances. “The modern world, and especially the Western world, is very monopolized,” Putin said during his call-in show in April. “Many Western countries, however unpleasant this may be for them to hear, they have willingly given up a significant part of their sovereignty. In part this is the result of the policy of forming blocs.”

The blocs Putin was referring to were the European Union and NATO, the military alliance that Russia sees as a strategic threat to its security. Over the years Putin has made no secret of his desire to see NATO downsized if not dismantled, and amid his recent standoff with the West over Ukraine, he has made a point to sew discord within that bloc of Western nations, most recently and publicly during his call-in show this spring. Just after his joke about European leaders whispering in their kitchens, the hosts of the tightly choreographed program took a call from Berlin, where a Hungarian political commentator named Gabor Stier asked Putin a somewhat leading question: “Aren’t you afraid that the U.S. will spoil Russia’s relations with Europe for a long time to come?”

Putin’s response was winding, but it ended with an anecdote meant to embarrass the current Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Years ago, when Rasmussen was still serving as the Prime Minister of Denmark, he asked for a private meeting with Putin, who said he was glad to oblige. “It turns out he took a tape recorder with him, secretly recorded our conversation and then published it in the press,” Putin claimed. “What kind of trust could there be after such incidents?”

NATO dismissed the allegations as “complete nonsense” and claimed Putin was simply trying to “divert attention” away from Russia’s meddling in Ukraine. But that probably wasn’t the aim of the anecdote. Putin’s more likely goal was to make the members of the NATO alliance suspect each other of spying and, ultimately, to erode the trust on which that alliance is based. Already the fallout from Germany’s latest spy scandal with the U.S. seems to have achieved something close to that very outcome, and if it leads to a rupture in their relationship, Putin will surely be able to allow himself a mischievous smile.

TIME espionage

Germany Asks U.S. Intelligence Official to Leave Amid Spying Concerns

German Federal Chancellor Merkel receives the Prime Minister of Moldova, Leanca, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on July 10, 2014.
German Federal Chancellor Merkel receives the Prime Minister of Moldova, Leanca, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on July 10, 2014. Adam Roe—Scholz Press/Corbis

With tensions between the two allies already high

Germany told the top U.S. intelligence official at the American embassy in Berlin to leave the country, the German government said Thursday.

Steffen Siebert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the American official has been asked to leave as a result of ongoing investigations into alleged U.S. spying in Germany.

“We have seen these reports and have no comment on a purported intelligence matter,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council. “However, our security and intelligence relationship with Germany is a very important one and it keeps Germans and Americans safe. It is essential that cooperation continue in all areas and we will continue to be in touch with the German government in appropriate channels.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that “any sort of comment on any reported intelligence acts would put at risk U.S. assets, U.S. personnel and the United States’ national security.”

“We do continue to be in touch with the Germans at a variety of levels, including through law enforcement, diplomatic and even intelligence channels,” Earnest added. “The strength of our national security relationship with Germany is important to American national security; it’s also important to the national security of the Germans.”

Earnest said he knew of no contacts between POTUS and Angela Merkel, other than last week’s conversation that preceded the announcement by German law enforcement officials about the alleged espionage.

The move comes amid growing tension between Germany and the U.S. over revelations of spying. Reports surfaced last year that intelligence officials tapped Merkel’s personal cell phone. And German media reported earlier this month that a foreigner arrested on suspicion of spying had been acting on behalf of the U.S.

“If this is true … I would see this as a clear contradiction to what I understand as trusting cooperation of intelligence services as well as of partners,” Merkel said when asked about the arrest Monday.

-Additional reporting by Zeke J Miller

TIME Religion

What the NSA Can Learn From Prophet Muhammad

Islam places immense emphasis on privacy in ways that Western governments today have only begun to match with privacy laws.

Whether it’s a legal scholar or a 7-year-old child that’s bullied on the playground, it’s hard to argue with this Harvard Law Review definition of privacy from 1890: “The right to be left alone.” Add to this simple concept a detailed U.S. Constitution and separation of powers to prevent abuse, and it seems like a no-brainer that we would leave alone those who have done nothing wrong.

Unfortunately, that simple concept seems lost on the NSA, as recent revelations indicate they invaded the privacy rights of prominent American Muslim lawyers for at least six years. As an American Muslim lawyer myself, who knows who else is reading my emails?

In spying on innocent American Muslim lawyers, the NSA likely violated the U.S. Constitution, and definitely violated the Qur’an’s powerful teachings on privacy.

Not only did the Qur’an champion privacy rights centuries before any modern constitution, but also, perhaps no law in history preserves the right to privacy as thoroughly and emphatically as does the Qur’an. Chapter 24:28-29 declares:

“O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own until you have asked leave and saluted the inmates thereof. That is better for you, that you may be heedful. And if you find no one therein, do not enter them until you are given permission. And if it be said to you, ‘Go back’ then go back; that is purer for you. And God knows well what you do.

In our era of NSA surveillance and warrantless wiretaps, this Qur’anic teaching’s immense value should become crystal clear. The Qur’an forbids entering any home of another person, inhabited or uninhabited, without the owner’s permission. The Qur’an further commands people to retreat immediately when they’re told to retreat from the home in question—all in the name of protecting a person’s privacy. The Qur’an makes no exceptions, but specifically commands, “enter not houses other than your own until you have asked leave.”

As far as “the right to be left alone,” how astutely the Qur’an declared thirteen-hundred years before Harvard Law, “if it be said to you ‘Go back’ then go back.”

In fact, Prophet Muhammad’s hadith, or teachings, detail how important privacy is in Islam:

“A man peeped through a hole in the door of God’s Apostle’s house, and at that time, God’s Apostle had a Midri (an iron comb or bar) with which he was rubbing his head. So when God’s Apostle saw him, he said (to him), “If I had been sure that you were looking at me (through the door), I would have poked your eye with this (sharp iron bar).” God’s Apostle added, “The asking for permission to enter has been enjoined so that one may not look unlawfully (at what there is in the house without the permission of its people).” –Bukhari

Some might allege that poking an eye is a cruel punishment. On the contrary, this hadith further emphasizes Islam’s ardent protection of an individual’s privacy. Privacy, particularly for women and minors—two classes that are most victim to sexual abuse—cannot be emphasized enough.

First, consider the ease with which a person can simply not take the unauthorized liberty of peering into another’s home without permission. Contrast that with the massive potential and actual harm that exists for those who are victim to such voyeurism. Based on the ease of compliance and the potentially devastating harm to a victim of privacy violations, an active deterrent is necessary to ensure that privacy—for all people—remains protected.

Thus, Islam places immense emphasis on privacy in ways that Western governments today have only begun to match with privacy laws. And with these NSA spying revelations, it seems that even Western government efforts in the modern era pale in comparison to the unmatched privacy laws Prophet Muhammad established fourteen-hundred years ago.

So NSA, stop spying on American Muslims and stop referring to your victims with derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad. Instead, if you wish to uphold the U.S. Constitution, learn about Muhammad’s ardent protection of human rights and privacy rights.

And hopefully then, we can finally be left alone.

Qasim Rashid is an attorney and national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. The above is an excerpt from Qasim’s Amazon #1 Best Selling book on Islam, EXTREMIST. Find Qasim on Twitter @MuslimIQ.

TIME intelligence

Privacy Advocates Call for FISA Court Reform

NSA Surveillance-Privacy Report
This Thursday, June 6, 2013, file photo, shows a sign outside the National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md. Patrick Semansky—AP

The Senate version of the USA Freedom Act would reform the process that led to NSA surveillance of five prominent Americans

Privacy advocates renewed their calls for reforms at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Tuesday, after a new report revealed documents leaked by Edward Snowden that detail secret intelligence warrants against five American Muslims.

The targeted individuals, found on a list of thousands of mostly foreign targets for court-reviewed surveillance, include a professor at Rutgers University, a former Bush administration official and the executive director of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group. Because the Justice Dept. and the FBI refused to comment, it is unknown on what grounds the men were targeted for surveillance, nor is it clear under what precise legal authority the surveillance was conducted.

Civil libertarians say the report shows why the U.S. Congress should introducing a special advocate on the court, whose job it would be to represent civil liberties interests in court proceedings, and establishing a process for declassifying the court’s orders. Those reforms are included in a Senate version of an intelligence reform bill, but not the House version now under consideration.

“It’s been one of the core issues lacking in the debate,” said Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about the process by which secret warrants can be obtained from the secret court. To get a FISA warrant, the NSA does have to explain to the court who it wants to spy on and why, as well as what they hope to get from the surveillance, but the bar is significantly lower than in a civilian courtroom. “I would call it a Probable Cause Warrant Light,” Jaycox said. “It’s not the high standard of a probably cause warrant.”

The version of the USA FREEDOM Act that passed in the House in May—which stirred controversy after civil liberties groups dropped support for the watered down legislation in droves—largely eliminated the special advocate position, replacing it instead with an official to consult in case of novel legal situations. The version of the bill championed by Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and under consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee, includes a special advocate who would permanently represent privacy interests on the court.

The secrecy of proceedings in the highly-classified FISC and the question of declassification has been another major point of contention. “The House-passed version of the bill has enormous loopholes to that requirement,” said ACLU Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani.

Whereas the Senate bill establishes a timeline and a process for making FISC decisions public in redacted form, the House version removed that requirement, allowing the FISC to instead declassify decisions “when practical” and to publish only a summary of their legal reasoning, Guliani said.

TIME

I Am a Muslim-American Leader, and the NSA Spied on Me

Nihad Awad, a target of NSA surveillance
Nihad Awad, a target of NSA surveillance Courtesy Council on American-Islamic Relations

But I am not the threat—our country's surveillance program is

As a student at the University of Minnesota decades ago, the more I learned about America’s history, the more I was inspired by our Founding Fathers. They were initially voices of dissent, who stood up and spoke on issues they thought would advance this country, with the understanding that it would not endear them to the powers of the day. This was the foundation for the Bill of Rights and the ideals that every American remains proud to enjoy to this day.

I am saddened, but not surprised, by recent revelations that I am on the list of Muslim-American leaders who have been targets for NSA surveillance. My First Amendment rights have been compromised simply because, over the years, I have expressed my views on issues relevant to public discourse. The fact that I have been individually targeted puts me on a list with very good company.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was spied on, along with Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald and boxer Muhammad Ali. Earlier this year, it came to light that the CIA had spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee, a Congressional body charged with oversight of the CIA.

Senator Frank Church, who led investigations in the 1970s uncovering FBI, CIA and NSA surveillance and illegal activity targeting minority activists, was spied on. In 1975 Church warned, “If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny.”

While I am not a figure of historical proportions like the ones I just mentioned, I am proud to be included on a long and growing list of patriots who have been spied on and subjected to an array of reputation smearing tactics by elements of our own government.

In 1994, I co-founded the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Today, CAIR is the United States’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. For many years, I enjoyed good relations with many government agencies, including the White House. As executive director, I have adopted many positions that dissent from government policy. But, if disagreement with government policy is viewed as subversive, no wonder the government has decided to vacuum up the communications of all Americans. We are an opinionated nation.

Like millions of other Americans, I have opposed U.S. foreign policy when I thought it was misguided. It is also true that I defended American policy overseas to unreceptive audiences when I thought my country was right. I spoke out against government use of secret evidence in U.S. courts in the late 1990s. I opposed the Iraq war. I have spoken in favor of Palestinian rights while consistently rejecting terrorism. I have advocated for, and ensured that CAIR filed lawsuits aimed at preserving, the Bill of Rights. In 2006, I went to Iraq to appeal for the release of a kidnapped American journalist. More recently, I joined Christian leaders on a trip to Iran to seek the release of American hikers who had been detained in that nation. Our delegation was informed by the Iranian authorities that our stay in Iran was vital in the ultimate decision to release the hikers. I worked for the release of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson and former US Marine Amir Hekmati, both currently held by the Iranian government. I have also opposed policies that undermine our Constitution: the No-Fly List, racial and religious profiling, and entrapment to name a few.

But CAIR and I have done all of this while continuing to condemn terrorism whenever it happens, wherever it happens, and by whoever commits it in over 107 public press statements in the past twenty years. CAIR’s “Know Your Rights” guide emphasizes, “If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.”

Senator Church’s 1975 warning about the technology capacity of the intelligence community and its possible consequences could easily have been made last week. It stands is a reminder to all Americans that our liberty is a gift that requires our vigilance to preserve.

America is about checks and balances, about voices that are unafraid to speak out. For too long, there has been no substantive check on government surveillance. This must change, as it is intolerable in a democratic society. My hope is that the policies and practices that result in the surveillance of law-abiding Americans engaging in public debate will be changed so that other Americans will not be treated as objects of suspicion.

Nihad Awad is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. A few days after September 11, 2001, Mr. Awad was one of the few American Muslim leaders invited by the White House to join President Bush in a press conference at the Islamic Center of Washington, the oldest mosque in Washington DC.

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