Thursday, April 18, 2024

Down with Big Brother: Warrantless Surveillance Makes a Mockery of the Constitution

By John W. And Nisha Whitehead - April 18, 2024 at 09:57AM

The government long ago sold us out to the highest bidder.

The highest bidder, by the way, has always been the Deep State.

What’s playing out now with the highly politicized tug-of-war over whether Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gets reauthorized by Congress doesn’t just sell us out, it makes us slaves of the Deep State.

Read the fine print: it’s a doozy.

Just as the USA Patriot was perverted from its stated intent to fight terrorism abroad and was instead used to covertly crack down on the American people (allowing government agencies to secretly track Americans’ financial activities, monitor their communications, and carry out wide-ranging surveillance on them), Section 702 has been used as an end-run around the Constitution to allow the government to collect the actual content of your conversations (phone calls, text messages, video chats, emails and other electronic communication) without a warrant.

Now intelligence officials are pushing to dramatically expand the government’s spying powers, effectively giving the government unbridled authority to force millions of Americans to spy on its behalf.

Basically, as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has warned, the Deep State wants to turn the American people into extensions of Big Brother.

This is how an effort to reform Section 702 has quickly steamrollered into an expansion of the government’s surveillance powers.

We should have seen this coming.

After all, the Police State doesn’t relinquish power easily, the Surveillance State doesn’t look favorably on anything that might weaken its control, and Big Brother doesn’t like to be restricted.

What most Americans don’t get is that even without Section 702 in play, the government will still target the populace for warrantless, suspicionless mass surveillance, because that’s how the police state maintains its stranglehold on power.

These maneuvers are just the tip of the iceberg.

The police state has passed the baton to the surveillance state.

On any given day, the average American is now monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

Talk about a system rife for abuse.

Now, the government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from its mass spying program because they’re only looking to get the “bad” guys who are overseas.

Don’t believe it.

The government’s definition of a “bad” guy is extraordinarily broad, and it results in the warrantless surveillance of innocent, law-abiding Americans on a staggering scale.

Indeed, the government has become the biggest lawbreaker of all.

According to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI repeatedly misused Section 702 in order to spy on the communications of two vastly disparate groups of Americans: those involved in the George Floyd protests and those who may have taken part in the Jan. 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol.

This abuse of its so-called national security powers is par for the course for the government.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, intelligence agencies conduct roughly 200,000 of these warrantless “backdoor” searches for Americans’ private communications each year.

No one is spared.

Many of the targets of these searches have done nothing wrong.

Government agents have spied on the communications of protesters, members of Congress, crime victims, journalists, and political donors, among many others.

The government has claimed that its spying on Americans is simply “incidental,” as though it were an accident, but it fully intends to collect this information.

As journalist Jake Johnson warns, under an expanded Section 702, U.S. intelligence agencies “could, without a warrant, compel gyms, grocery stores, barber shops, and other businesses to hand over communications data.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Securities and Exchange Commission is deploying a massive government database—the Consolidated Audit Trail, or CAT—that monitors in real time the identity, transactions and investment portfolio of everyone who invests in the stock market.”

Journalist Leo Hohmann reports that the government is also handing out $20 million in grants to police, mental health networks, universities, churches and school districts to enlist their help in identifying Americans who might be political dissidents or potential “extremists.”

Ask the government why it’s carrying out this far-reaching surveillance on American citizens, and you’ll get the same Orwellian answer the government has been trotting in response to every so-called crisis to justify its assaults on our civil liberties: to keep America safe.

What this is really all about, however, is control.

What we are dealing with is a government so power-hungry, paranoid and afraid of losing its stranglehold on power that it is conspiring to wage war on anyone who dares to challenge its authority.

When the FBI is asking banks and other financial institutions to carry out dragnet searches of customer transactions—warrantlessly and without probable cause—for “extremism” indicators broadly based on where you shop, what you read, and how you travel, we’re all in trouble.

You don’t have to do anything illegal.

For that matter, you don’t even have to challenge the government’s authority.

Frankly, you don’t even have to care about politics or know anything about your rights.

All you really need to do in order to be tagged as a suspicious character, flagged for surveillance, and eventually placed on a government watch list is live in the United States.

As long as the government is allowed to weaponize its 360 degree surveillance technologies to flag you as a threat to national security, whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, it’s just a matter of time before you find yourself wrongly accused, investigated and confronted by police based on a data-driven algorithm or risk assessment culled together by a computer program run by artificial intelligence.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it won’t be long before Big Brother’s Thought Police are locking us up to “protect us” from ourselves.

At that point, we will disappear.

Reprinted with permission from The Rutherford Institute.

from Ron Paul Institute Featured Articles


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