We are the enemy
The United States of America is more than a little weird.
Our system of government was created with the understanding that governments are a lot like fire. They might be useful, but they must be controlled or else things get bad very quickly.
I’m of the belief that our Founding Fathers would want to know why we haven’t started a new revolution if they saw what our federal government has become. Yet, for the most part, we still have the ability to act in a way that our rulers might not like.
Yet based on a couple of reports, one has to ask for how long?
Let’s start with this report from Politico, where it seems DHS has been running a domestic intelligence-gathering operation for some time.
For years, the Department of Homeland Security has run a virtually unknown program gathering domestic intelligence, one of many revelations in a wide-ranging tranche of internal documents reviewed by POLITICO.
Those documents also reveal that a significant number of employees in DHS’s intelligence office have raised concerns that the work they are doing could be illegal.
Well, that’s an amazing start.
So what were they doing that was so shady? Well…
Under the domestic-intelligence program, officials are allowed to seek interviews with just about anyone in the United States. That includes people held in immigrant detention centers, local jails, and federal prison. DHS’s intelligence professionals have to say they’re conducting intelligence interviews, and they have to tell the people they seek to interview that their participation is voluntary. But the fact that they’re allowed to go directly to incarcerated people — circumventing their lawyers — raises important civil liberties concerns, according to legal experts.
That specific element of the program, which has been in place for years, was paused last year because of internal concerns. DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, which runs the program, uses it to gather information about threats to the U.S., including transnational drug trafficking and organized crime. But the fact that this low-profile office is collecting intelligence by questioning people in the U.S. is virtually unknown.
The inner workings of the program — called the “Overt Human Intelligence Collection Program” — are described in the large tranche of internal documents POLITICO reviewed from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Those documents and additional interviews revealed widespread internal concerns about legally questionable tactics and political pressure. The documents also show that people working there fear punishment if they speak out about mismanagement and abuses.
Basically, the way I see it is that if DHS officials come and say they want to talk, you’re going to talk to them. They can say it’s voluntary, but we’ve been conditioned as a nation to see a refusal to comply as evidence you have something to hide. Many will simply talk in hopes of the whole thing disappearing.
Then we have the fact that you pretty much have to tell them the truth. Lying to a federal agent is illegal.
While you can decline to answer questions, many will feel that might invite further scrutiny.
So anyone who gets a visit feels obligated to answer every question DHS officials want to ask and failure to do so will land them in jail.
All for a domestic intelligence agenda that isn’t really in the purview of the department in question. Not really. After all, they’re an intelligence operation, not a law enforcement one, and much of this should fall on law enforcement.
Sure, if we’re talking about international arms shipments to terrorist groups, that’s one thing. We’re not.
And if that were all, it would be enough.
The problem is, it’s not.
You see, under current law, the FBI needs a warrant to get location data based on your cell phone. This is, of course, to protect your privacy.
If there’s probable cause to suspect you of a crime, or at least probable cause that a crime was committed, that’s one thing. They don’t need it otherwise.
And yet, the got it.
How? They just bought it.
THE UNITED STATES Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged for the first time that it purchased US location data rather than obtaining a warrant. While the practice of buying people’s location data has grown increasingly common since the US Supreme Court reined in the government’s ability to warrantlessly track Americans’ phones nearly five years ago, the FBI had not previously revealed ever making such purchases.
The disclosure came today during a US Senate hearing on global threats attended by five of the nation’s intelligence chiefs. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, put the question of the bureau’s use of commercial data to its director, Christopher Wray: “Does the FBI purchase US phone-geolocation information?” Wray said his agency was not currently doing so, but he acknowledged that it had in the past. He also limited his response to data companies gathered specifically for advertising purposes.
“To my knowledge, we do not currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising,” Wray said. “I understand that we previously—as in the past—purchased some such information for a specific national security pilot project. But that’s not been active for some time.” He added that the bureau now relies on a “court-authorized process” to obtain location data from companies.
Now, I’m not going to get into why this is a problem because I think it’s kind of obvious.
What I do want to get into, though, is why they’re doing all of this.
You see, in theory, these agencies are supposed to keep our nation safe. The problem is that they’ve gone beyond their mandate and are basically treating any and all Americans as potential threats. They’ve tossed the Constitution in the crapper and are doing whatever they want.
Why? Because you and I are the enemy.
The Bill of Rights is meant to protect us from things like this, as are numerous other laws regulating government action. They see us all as threats because we may not bow down and kiss the feet of our betters.
They’re spying on Americans, gathering intelligence on us, as if we’re the problem.
Yet anyone with half a brain can look at the last century or two and see where the real threat comes from.
They don’t need location data for cell phones without probable cause. They don’t need to just randomly ask to speak to people unless part of an investigation. And yet, here we are.
Even this could, in theory, be taken as innocent.
However, we also know that the government has worked to censor us. As Michael Schellenberg put it earlier today before Congress, “U.S. government intelligence and security agencies to wage[d] “information warfare” against the American people.”
We are the enemy, folks.
Keep that in mind.
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