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  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 6:23pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 3:34am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 3:34am

NSA's porn snoop not such a bad idea

One thing about men is that we all - ok, may be not all, but say 99.999 per cent of men - have looked at porn. So I rather look on the latest unending leaks by Edward Snowden about the US National Security Agency in a more positive light than most.

Apparently, the NSA once hatched a plan to snoop on the online habits of radical Islamists and to oust them if they prove to be regular viewers of porn. It's not clear how far the NSA went with the idea, though we know it targeted at least six radicals. They were not actual "terrorists" but extremists who tried to radicalise their followers with inflammatory Islamist speeches. Of the six, only one was American. Another was an Islamic academic who was described in the official language as being guilty of "online promiscuity". Is there any other kind of online behaviour?

Most critics, especially those in puritanical US, frowned upon the NSA plot. You might have recognised the idea if you watch HBO, which has recently aired the movie Middle Men, about several internet payment pioneers who were forced by US spy agencies to use the payment records and internet connections of their porn sites to locate Islamic terrorists, who were then bombed to smithereens. Hollywood, however, proves to be far bloodier than real life. After all, the NSA's programme only aimed to discredit the Islamists by exposing their pornographic habits, not killing them. The American Civil Liberties Union doesn't see it that way, though. "This report is an unwelcome reminder of what it means to give an intelligence agency unfettered access to individuals' most sensitive information," said the union's deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer. "That these tactics have been adopted by the world's leading democracy - and the world's most powerful intelligence agency - is truly chilling."

Actually I am not so sure. For one, it sure beats sending in unmanned drones to assassinate terrorist suspects in foreign lands without due process. Such "target killings" have caused thousands of deaths, many of them innocent bystanders, in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. There is nothing wrong with exposing the hypocrisy of religious zealots, even if the effort was politically motivated. It's almost a moral duty to do so.

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This article is now closed to comments

dienw
"... and to oust [?] them ... ". I think you mean "out them". This is worse than your "cumulating" instead of "culminating" in a recent article. Kind of embarrassing, for you and your newspaper.
asiaseen
No Mr Lo you are wrong. The NSA has no moral duty to expose hypocrisy. Its snooping is wrong, illegal, and also hypocritical.
 
 
 
 
 

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