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Thursday, July 7, 2022

The focus of spy agencies on China may trap Chinese Americans

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – As US intelligence agencies ramp up their efforts against China, top officials have admitted they may be collecting more phone calls and emails from Chinese Americans about espionage affecting civil liberties. New concerns are rising.

a new report Several recommendations are made from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, including expanding unconscious bias training and reiterating internally that federal law completely prohibits targeting anyone because of their ethnicity.

US intelligence agencies are under constant pressure to better understand China’s decision-making on issues including nuclear weapons, geopolitics and Origin of the COVID-19 pandemic – and has responded with new centers and programs focused on Beijing. While there is bipartisan support for a tougher US approach to China, civil rights groups and advocates are concerned about the disproportionate impact of increased surveillance on people of Chinese descent.

As an example, people who speak to relatives or contacts in China may be more likely to accelerate their communication, although intelligence agencies cannot determine that due to civil liberties concerns. How many times is this the reason.

The US government has a long history of discrimination against groups of citizens in the name of national security. Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps during World War II, black leaders were spied on during the 1960s civil rights movement, and mosques were surveyed after the September 11 attacks. Chinese Americans have faced discrimination in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first law to explicitly ban immigration from a specific ethnic community.

Aryani Ong, co-founder of Asian American Federal Employees, an advocacy group for nondiscrimination, said people of Asian descent are sometimes “not completely trustworthy as loyal Americans.” She said the report, published on May 31, would be useful for a conversation described as a confluence of civil rights and national defence.

Ong and other advocates pointed to the Justice Department’s “China Initiative.” Created by Beijing to target economic espionage and hacking operations. The DOJ dropped the program’s name after it was linked to faltering lawsuits by Asian American professors on US college campuses.

“Often we hear responses that we cannot undermine our national security, such that protecting the constitutional rights of Asian Americans (is) contrary to our defense,” said Ong, who is an Indonesian and Chinese American.

But in trying to produce demographic data on the impact of surveillance, intelligence agencies say there’s a paradox: background checks of US citizens whose data is collected require more intrusion into the lives of those people.

“Detecting this type of information would require additional collection that would not be authorized at all because it is not for the foreign intelligence purpose for which the intelligence community derives its authority,” said Ben Huebner, director of chief civil liberties officer for National Intelligence’s Avril Haines said in an interview.

But, Huebner said, “I think because we can’t access those kinds of metrics analytically, that doesn’t mean we have to drop the ball on it.”

One potential disparity highlighted by the report is known as “accidental collection.”

In surveillance of a foreign target, intelligence agencies may obtain communications of the target with a US citizen who is not being investigated. Agencies also collect phone calls or emails from US citizens as they sweep for foreign communications.

The National Security Agency has vast powers to survey domestic and foreign communications, documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal, Under NSA rules, any new foreign target under surveillance has to be signed by two people. The NSA conceals the identities of US citizens under federal law and intelligence guidelines and passes potential domestic leads to the FBI.

FBI can reach Some NSA collections without warrant. Civil rights advocates have long argued that minority communities are disproportionately targeted under the discoveries known as Section 702.

The ODNI report said Chinese Americans “may be at an increased risk of such accidental collection,” as Americans are not of Chinese descent who have business or personal ties with China. The report recommends a review of artificial intelligence programs to ensure they “avoid perpetuating historical bias and discrimination.” It also suggests that agencies in the intelligence community extend unconscious bias training to those handling information from casual collection.

ODNI is also studying delays in granting security clearances and whether people of Chinese or Asian descent face longer or more invasive background checks. While there is no publicly available data on clearance, some applicants from minority communities have questioned whether they undergo additional scrutiny because of their race or ethnicity. According to the report, US Intelligence assesses that “neither race nor ethnicity is the primary criterion in the recruitment of intelligence assets by the intelligence services of the PRC.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that he welcomed the recommendations to “raise awareness of the current nondiscrimination restrictions and improve transparency around the security clearance process.”

But Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is the committee’s deputy chairman, said the need for new training on unconscious bias and cultural competency was a distraction.

“The Chinese Communist Party loves nothing more than to be distracted by divisive, internal politics,” Rubio said in a statement.

The ODNI report highlights FBI training on race and ethnicity as “best practice” in the intelligence community. In a statement, the FBI said there is “no place for prejudice and prejudice in our communities” and that law enforcement should “work to eliminate these flawed beliefs in our agencies so that we can take an oath to protect them.” The FBI said its agents are trained to “obey the Constitution” and “treat everyone with respect, empathy and dignity.”

A senior NSA official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters said the agency currently requires unconscious bias training for managers and hiring executives, but not all employees. The NSA trains intelligence analysts on rules that restrict the collection of intelligence to suppress dissent or harm people based on their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, and reviews the ODNI’s recommendations. are doing.

The CIA late last year issued new instructions to officials discouraging the use of the word “Chinese” to describe China’s government. The guidance suggests referring to leadership as “China,” “People’s Republic of China” or “PRC,” or “Beijing” when using “Chinese” to refer to a people, language or culture.

“It is important to be clear that our concern is about the threat posed by the People’s Republic of China, PRC – not the people of China, let alone fellow Americans of Chinese or Asian descent,” said CIA Director William Burns. Said recently speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “To mix the two is a grave mistake.”

World Nation News Desk
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