“Unlike some other nations, the United States does not monitor anyone's communications in order to suppress criticism or to put people at a disadvantage based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion,” the joint statement provided to ABC News by the government offices said. “Our intelligence agencies can collect communications only when they have a legitimate foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose. This work is done to help protect Americans.”
“Moreover, no U.S. person can be the subject of surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays or expressing personal beliefs. On the other hand, a person who the court finds is an agent of a foreign power under this rigorous standard is not exempted just because of his or her occupation,” the statement says.
The Intercept also reported that Snowden provided a 2005 training document that instructed “intelligence community personnel” to file memos correctly to justify a FISA warrant. “In the place where the target’s real name would go,” Greenwald writes, “the memo offers a fake name as a placeholder: ‘Mohammad Raghead.’”
Another senior government official, who is not authorized to speak to the press, told ABC News that the offensive document was produced by a low-level "knucklehead" who only shared it with a few fellow government or military employees, not thousands of intelligence workers.
Vanee Vines, a spokesperson for the NSA, told ABC News that while the agency would not comment on the “authenticity of any allegedly leaked material,” the NSA “has not and would not approve official training documents that include insulting or inflammatory language.”
“Any use of racial or ethical stereotypes, slurs or other similar language by employees is both unacceptable and inconsistent with NSA policy and core values,” Vines said.
ABC News' Rym Momtaz and Lee Ferran contributed to this report.