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The NSA Tracked Porn Access To Discredit Alleged Jihadists

Intelligence agency explored the idea of leveraging “personal vulnerabilities”

On by Max Smolaks 0

The US National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly studied Internet traffic, planning to use certain users’ online interactions and access to pornography websites as a means of discrediting them.

Documents provided by Edward Snowden and published by the Huffington Post suggest that the agency targeted suspected ‘radicalizers’ and developed six test cases, all involving Muslim men, to prove the power of leveraging “personal vulnerabilities”.

None of the targets have been proven to be a part of any terrorist organisation. At least one of them was identified as a “US person”.

Playing dirty

Documents from the director’s office of the NSA dated October 2012 state that “radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviours are not consistent”.

Porn - Shutterstock - © jaymastFor example, things like “viewing sexually explicit material online” or “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls” wouldn’t sit well with a strongly religious community.

The NSA report also suggests non-sexual pressure points, such as the knowledge that a target used donations to pay for personal expenses, or charged too much for opportunities to speak in public.

While not explicitly admitting authorship of the documents, a spokesman for the agency said there was nothing wrong with using such tactics.

“Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence,” Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, told the Huffington Post.

The six ‘radicalisers’ are thought to be spreading controversial ideas through social media websites in both English and Arabic languages, and the NSA has got dirt online on at least two of them. Some of the discrediting information was obtained by the FBI under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act, which allows spying on foreign nationals without a court order.

The documents do not indicate whether the NSA ever carried out its plan to discredit these six individuals. It is worth remembering that the US officials have used similar tactics in the past against civil rights leaders and labour movement activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

Meanwhile in Europe, commissioner Viviane Reding has warned that the current “Safe Harbour” agreement, which applies strict rules on protection of personal information to EU data transferred to the US companies, is not fit for purpose, and could be scrapped by summer 2014 unless recommended changes are made.

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