Reminiscent of the government’s counterintelligence program during the Civil Rights Movement, the Bush administration investigated the Nation of Islam by skirting constitutional safeguards and rules against collecting and distributing information on U.S. citizens, The Associated Press reports.
As Homeland Security officials gathered their intelligence on the Black Muslim group, they "unintentionally and inadvertently violated" laws, according to documents obtained by AP through the Freedom of Information Act. Internal correspondence shows the 2007 report — titled "Nation of Islam: Uncertain Leadership Succession Poses Risks" — was created by an intelligence group working within the Homeland Security Department, AP reports.
But the report was immediately recalled because Homeland Security officials recognized that it violated procedures for collecting and disseminating intelligence. Still, it was widely distributed over the Internet to federal, state and local governments, agencies and law-enforcement entities, according to AP.
"The [Nation of Islam], despite its highly volatile and extreme rhetoric, has neither advocated violence nor engaged in violence," officials found. Thus, they continued, the Nation should not have been the subject of intelligence gathering.
The intelligence document "discussed the possible succession of leadership of [the Nation of Islam] and the direction the group may take depending on who becomes the new leader, their personal philosophy, and their ability to keep the organization from further splintering," according to a memo from Broughton.