Religious Group Demands NSA Documents in Ethnic-Slur Probe

A new FOIA request is just the latest fallout of the Snowden leaks.

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, as seen from the air, January 29, 2010. 
National Journal
Dustin Volz
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Dustin Volz
July 17, 2014, 12:21 p.m.

A Sikh or­gan­iz­a­tion is ask­ing in­tel­li­gence au­thor­it­ies to dis­close in­tern­al com­mu­nic­a­tions that con­tain eth­nic epi­thets.

The Sikh Co­ali­tion on Thursday filed a Free­dom of In­form­a­tion Act re­quest to the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency and the FBI for em­ploy­ee emails sent from Sept. 11, 2001, un­til the present that con­tain the slurs “ra­g­head” or “tow­el­head.”

The move is in re­sponse to a new Ed­ward Snowden leak pub­lished last week that re­vealed the NSA and the FBI have spied on the emails of five high-pro­file Muslim-Amer­ic­ans who are not pub­licly known to be guilty of any ter­ror­ist activ­ity. In the same leak, one dis­closed file from 2005 shows an uniden­ti­fied tar­get’s name be­ing logged in a spread­sheet as “Mo­hammed Ra­g­head.”

“As Amer­ic­ans, we ex­pect law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials to be­have like adults,” said Am­ardeep Singh, pro­gram dir­ect­or of the Sikh Co­ali­tion, in a state­ment. “The Sikh Co­ali­tion will not tol­er­ate the use of ra­cial or re­li­gious slurs by people who are sup­posed to pro­tect us.”

Shortly after the re­port’s pub­lic­a­tion, a White House spokes­wo­man said it had asked James Clap­per, the dir­ect­or of na­tion­al in­tel­li­gence, to “un­der­take an as­sess­ment of in­tel­li­gence com­munity policies, train­ing stand­ards, or dir­ect­ives that pro­mote di­versity and tol­er­ance, and as ne­ces­sary, make any re­com­mend­a­tions changes or ad­di­tion­al re­forms.”

The White House and the Of­fice of the Dir­ect­or of Na­tion­al In­tel­li­gence did not im­me­di­ately re­spond Thursday to a re­quest for a status up­date on the in­tern­al re­view.

The Sikh Co­ali­tion is a non­profit or­gan­iz­a­tion formed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Last week, Jason Leo­pold, a well-known and pro­lif­ic open-re­cords re­port­er, also filed a re­quest with the FBI ask­ing for sim­il­ar doc­u­ments.

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