Arab Americans, mosques, cultural centers and our communities as a whole are subject to surveillance under the guise of national security without probable cause. Under current legislation and policies, our government and law enforcement agencies are not required to provide probable cause or criminal suspicion before subjecting someone to an investigation or to placing someone on a watch-list. Criminal suspicion is often assumed against our communities because we have a particular name, were born in a particular country, or wear cultural garb or an article of faith.
ADC has risen to the challenge of addressing lack of privacy protections and warrantless surveillance in our communities. ADC strongly advocated for the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685). The USA Freedom Act passage into law: 1) ended the National Security Administration’s (NSA) bulk collection of phone records and increased transparency in the NSA; 2) limited the scope of data collection to a “specific selection term” for which there is a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that the term is associated with international terrorism; 3) required the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) to approve selection term requests in advance of data collection; 4) created a amici curiae argue for civil liberties in the FISA court; and 5) required the executive branch to be more transparent by producing more detailed reporting on surveillance.
ADC stands firm that surveillance reform is necessary. ADC is a proud supporter of the Surveillance State Repeal Act that aims to require a warrant before collecting phone call metadata, require a warrant prior to surveillance under FISA, require regular monitoring of domestic surveillance programs, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and repeal the FISA Amendments Act.
ADC has also submitted several recommendations to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) for vital areas of focus during its midterm and long term agenda including surveillance, profiling, watch-list placement, and federal law enforcement training. On December 17, 2014, ADC provided testimony that reports indicate that Executive Order 12333 has been used to target Arab and Arab Americans. ADC called on the PCLOB to: 1) examine and disclose numbers of Arab and Arab Americans subject to data collection and/or monitoring pursuant to EO 12333; 2) examine if Arabs subject to EO 12333 are automatically subject to surveillance and placement on the Watch-lists; 3) examine how data collected is disposed of; 4) examine the legal basis for a person being subject to EO 12333 and adherence to the probable cause standard; 5) examine the sharing of information with foreign governments and mechanisms to ensure data used for proper purposes and not for intimidation, blackmail, among other human rights abuses; 6) examine and disclose EO 12333 data used for improper purposes including immigration and criminal trials; and 7) examine and disclose EO 12333 data shared with local law enforcement that was used to target Arab and minority communities with no ties to criminal activity or terrorism. On January 12, 2015, ADC submitted updates to our provided written testimony to PCLOB.