How Spy Agencies Plan to Solve Their Racism Problem

Prompted by Snowden leaks, the office of the director of national intelligence is attempting damage control by promising new programs meant to promote “diversity and tolerance.”

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 29: A member of CodePink protests as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (C) takes his seat prior to a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee October 29, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Potential Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)." 
Getty Images
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
July 21, 2014, 12:42 p.m.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies are pledging “di­versity and tol­er­ance” re­forms after leaks by Ed­ward Snowden re­vealed a string of dis­crim­in­at­ory prac­tices and com­mu­nic­a­tions rife with ra­cial, eth­nic, and re­li­gious epi­thets.

The of­fice of the dir­ect­or of na­tion­al in­tel­li­gence says it will im­ple­ment an­nu­al train­ing on “multi-cul­tur­al un­der­stand­ing and sens­it­iv­ity,” an eval­u­ation of cur­rent di­versity train­ing, and the rees­tab­lish­ment of an ex­tern­al ad­vis­ory board on “di­versity and in­clu­sion,” ac­cord­ing to a DNI spokes­wo­man. The spokes­wo­man did not com­ment fur­ther on the spe­cif­ics of the pro­grams.

The in­tel­li­gence com­munity on Fri­day said it had com­pleted an in­tern­al re­view of its tol­er­ance policies. The re­view came at the be­hest of the White House fol­low­ing the Snowden leak.

The leaked ma­ter­i­als, pub­lished in The In­ter­cept, re­vealed the FBI and Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency had been spy­ing on the emails of five prom­in­ent Muslim-Amer­ic­ans who are not pub­licly known to be linked to any ter­ror­ist activ­ity. Also pub­lished was a 2005 FBI spread­sheet that lis­ted an uniden­ti­fied tar­get’s place­hold­er name as “Mo­hammed Ra­g­head.”

The In­ter­cept re­port promp­ted a heavy back­lash from anti-sur­veil­lance ad­voc­ates, who cited it as evid­ence of a sus­tained ra­cial and re­li­gious bi­as firmly en­trenched in the post-Septem­ber 11 na­tion­al se­cur­ity ap­par­at­us. Last week, some at­tendees of a White House din­ner cel­eb­rat­ing the Muslim hol­i­day of Ra­madan ex­pressed con­cern that the NSA was un­fairly tar­get­ing Muslims for sur­veil­lance.

In re­sponse, the ad­min­is­tra­tion did not com­ment dir­ectly on the vera­city of the leak, but said it had asked the of­fice of the dir­ect­or of na­tion­al in­tel­li­gence to con­duct an eval­u­ation of its policies to de­term­ine wheth­er suf­fi­cient safe­guards were in place to pre­vent ra­cial or re­li­gious bi­as.

Civil-liber­ties groups re­main largely un­im­pressed by the new sens­it­iv­ity meas­ures, say­ing they were un­likely to pre­vent the agen­cies from fu­ture re­li­gious-based tar­get­ing.

Naur­een Shah, le­gis­lat­ive coun­sel with the Amer­ic­an Civil Liber­ties Uni­on, said the new ini­ti­at­ives do not make clear “wheth­er law en­force­ment are still basing sur­veil­lance meth­ods on flawed as­sump­tions.” She poin­ted to the FBI’s 2012 pur­ging from its files of hun­dreds of coun­terter­ror­ism train­ing doc­u­ments after a re­view found sev­er­al in­ac­curacies — in­clud­ing the use of Muslim “ste­reo­types” or gen­er­al “poor taste” — in their de­pic­tion of Is­lam.

“All we know is the tip of the ice­berg,” Shah said. “The ad­min­is­tra­tion needs to do more ac­count­ing of its policies.”

Last week, the Sikh Co­ali­tion filed a Free­dom of In­form­a­tion Act re­quest to both the NSA and FBI ask­ing for all em­ploy­ee emails sent from Sept. 11, 2001, un­til present that con­tain the slurs “ra­g­head” or “tow­el­head.”

What We're Following See More »
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
5 hours ago
THE LATEST
MODELED ON 9/11 COMMISSION
House Dems Introduce Legislation to Investigate Russian Hacking of Elections
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), a Democrat on the House intelligence committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the House government oversight committee, announced they were introducing legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate any attempt by the Russian government or persons in Russia to interfere with the recent US election. The commission they propose is modeled on the widely-praised 9/11 Commission."

Source:
$6.3 BILLION FOR RESEARCH AND OPIOIDS
Senate Sends Medical Cures Bill to Obama’s Desk
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
DON’T WANT TO VOTE HILLARY
Colorado Electors Sue State for Right to Vote Third Party
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Two Colorado presidential electors Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a state law that requires them to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote," in this case Hillary Clinton. They say they want to "vote for a third-party candidate to keep Trump from receiving 270 electoral votes," and work with other faithless electors around the country to "shift their Democratic votes to a consensus pick."

Source:
HAD CONSIDERED RUNNING FOR GUV IN 2018
Oklahoma AG Pruitt to Get the Nod for EPA Chief
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login