Statement - Nazih Hassan, Target of Illegal Spying

March 31, 2006

I was born in Lebanon in 1969 and became a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 2001. I work as a technology consultant and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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The recent revelations about the warrantless National Security Agency surveillance program, used by the government to monitor communications between U.S. residents and people abroad without court order, is of grave concern to me.

I have been active in peace and justice issues and have spoken publicly against government policies related to the war in Iraq, detention of Muslims in the U.S. and infringement on Muslims’ civil liberties. For instance I was active in the Committee to Free Rabih Haddad, a man who was detained for 18 months and then deported without being charged with any crime.

I regularly communicate with friends and relatives overseas by phone and email. I discuss with them current events such as the war in Iraq, the war on terror, treatment of detainees and U.S. policies in the Middle East. Some of them, like Rabih Haddad, are viewed with suspicion by the U.S. government based apparently purely on their political and religious advocacy.

The fact that the NSA program is without any judicial oversight, and can be abused to spy on innocent political discussions, has made me reluctant and fearful to discuss current events with people overseas.

I have always believed that the rights to privacy, to be free of illegal monitoring and free political discourse, are constitutional guarantees to every U.S. resident. These illegal surveillance programs clearly violate these core principles and could result in widespread abuses of Muslims’ privacy rights.

The U. S. Constitution and laws require warrants issued by a judge in order to monitor anyone under suspicion - and rightly so. The unlawful surveillance of innocent Americans, regardless of their country of origin or ethnicity is un-American and wrong. The power that the NSA has been given to view our daily lives is unprecedented and disheartening.

I came to this country with the knowledge that it is every person's right to speak out, associate with others and worship freely. It would be a shame if all of that became untrue as a result of legitimate fear directed illegitimately at innocent people.

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