Report: NSA Considered Revealing Porn Habits To Discredit Radicals

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I feel like when people freak out about the unknown threat of mass government surveillance, they’re secretly worried a clandestine agent will reveal their naughty web-surfing habits to friends and family. Today, that fear was revealed. At least for suspected terrorists.

The Huffington Post* reports on new top-secret documents showing that the National Security Agency considered blackmailing suspected Muslim radicals by revealing their Internet porn history.

The classified documents leaked by whistleblower and current Russian language-learner Edward Snowden show that an “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent.”

According to the document, the NSA has embarrassing information on at least two suspected targets and some of the data was gathered through FBI surveillance under the controversial Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA).

There’s no information on whether the NSA actually used the red-face-inducing porn discredit plan. Perhaps more importantly, it’s unclear whether the NSA was targeting suspected terrorists, or those assisted in radicalizing others through Internet messaging.

Stewart Baker, former NSA general counsel and the media’s favorite defender of surveillance, said that “On the whole, it’s fairer and maybe more humane” than bombing a suspect, describing the “it” as “dropping the truth on them.”

It’s a safe bet that the NSA could likely find terrorists that sneak in some porn on their downtime; not because it’s a scientific fact that all men look at porn, but because officials have found it before. U.S. officials discovered an “extensive” porn library in Osama Bin Laden’s last hideout in Pakistan.

For those readers who have finished this story without erasing their Internet history, the Huffington Post reminds us that our intelligence agencies have kept juicy secrets on political dissidents in the past, including Martin Luther King.

The Internet apparently has a sense of irony, because the first suggested “you may like” link on the Huffpo story was “Why Do Lesbians Watch Gay Porn,” perhaps posted in a deliberate attempt at entrapment — or because porn is just all over the Internet.
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*The Huffington Post is owned by TechCrunch’s parent company, Aol. Now that you know this, I would like to personally thank one of the authors, Ryan Grimm, for allowing me to use “porn” and “NSA” in a headline.