NSA Using Adult Websites to Shame Terrorists

Dennis Faas's picture

A leaked document shows the National Security Agency (NSA) is trying to use adult websites to discredit people suspected of participating in terrorism campaigns targeting Americans. However, critics suggest it's a flawed approach that could hurt innocent civilians.

The document was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It refers to agents gathering together evidence on "radicalizers" whose "private and public behaviors are not consistent".

In other words, in private these radicalizers do things they would not want other people to know about. The suggestion is that releasing this evidence could undermine their authority.

The memo says radicalizers may be vulnerable if it appears they've been siphoning off money donated to their cause and spending it on frivolous luxury items.

The NSA also seems to believe that its targets will be negatively affected if someone can show they've been making a profit by charging high public speaking fees. The memo also notes that finding and highlighting inconsistencies in a person's public statements can help bring their authority into question.

Explicit Content May Disparage Reputation

But the memo also lists "viewing ... explicit material online or using ... explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls." (Source: huffingtonpost.com)

From a purely strategic perspective, the idea certainly makes sense. If somebody is trying to rally supporters to their cause by attacking Western decadence, proving that person visits adult sites could be disruptive.

A former NSA lawyer said that, "On the whole, it's fairer and maybe more humane" to use such tactics. In other words, rather than dropping a bomb on a suspect, security forces would be "dropping the truth on them" and their supporters.

Security Agency Targeting Under Question

The big question is how the investigation works. Is it a case of identifying people as a credible risk to US security, then taking a look at their visits to explicit sites?

Or is it a case of building up a database of the viewing habits of a wider group so that the evidence is there if and when they are identified as a suspected threat?

Those questions aren't helped by the fact that of the six specific targets detailed in the memo, none are said to have any personal involvement in plots to commit acts of terror. (Source: slate.com)

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