Last Wednesday several U.S. intelligence agencies released previously classified documents in response to FOIA litigation from EFF & ACLU. Among these was a document reporting that the Department of Homeland Security had improperly investigated the Nation of Islam in 2007. DHS retracted the intelligence report on the black Muslim group hours after its release – but not before the report was disseminated widely to hundreds of other government agencies, private organizations and individuals. While it is a positive sign that DHS’ intelligence oversight managed to catch and retract the Nation of Islam report, the fact that the report was written at all suggests continuing confusion, at the working level, about what is the proper focus of domestic intelligence activity.
The government has spied on the Nation of Islam and its leaders for decades, but never obtained evidence that the organization was a terrorist outfit. So why was it under investigation yet again? Not because new evidence of violence or illegality surfaced, but because the group’s leader was sick.
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