In Dragnet Surveillance Debate, American Muslims Speak from Experience
January 29 2014Most Americans learned only months ago that the details of their daily activities are being tracked in the name of national security. But one group, Muslim Americans, has more than a decade of personal experience knowing they are closely watched. Gaedir Abbas, a staff attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, explained in a recent podcast that this experience gives Muslims a valuable perspective to share in the current debate:
[T]he march of technology is against us here. It’s becoming cheaper and cheaper to collect all of the information. A benefit and protection of people’s . . . [rights before these changes was that] the government [had] to pick and choose and prioritize what it investigates.
[W]ith the Snowden revelations we might look back in a decade on this as a turning point, a watershed moment where the American public stopped taking the government at its word and was less willing to attribute 9/11 as a catch all defense of any and all measures.
The best service that the American Muslim community can provide right now, because of its experience with indiscriminate surveillance, [is to share what our community knows] better than anyone else: how despicable and burdensome and useless such surveillance can be.