Ever since the beginning of the "War On Terror," the surveillance power of the U.S. government has greatly expanded into an apparatus of abuse that even George Orwell could have never imagined. Thanks to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), it was revealed last week that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been carefully and meticulously conducting surveillance on peaceful protesters and activists here at home.
This not only helps prove that war is the single greatest enabler of the expansion of government power and the restriction of individual liberties, but also shows the lengths that the U.S. government will go to to monitor any internal dissent to the permanent warfare state.
According to documents obtained by PCJF through a Freedom of Information Act request, the DHS has used its already dangerously broad post-9/11 powers to expand upon the definition of "domestic terrorist." Federal fusion centers — where the federal government shares information with local and state authorities — have been spending a vast majority of their time and budget on monitoring and attempting to disrupt constitutionally-protected acts of speech and protests, specifically "Ron Paul supporters, Occupy protesters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters, and advocates of gun rights."
The DHS has also been very concerned with the amount of media coverage any political rallies or protests receive.
For Americans worried about their civil liberties and why the U.S. government feels that has the right or need to conduct such heavy surveillance on peaceful protests, Arkansas State Fusion Center Director Richard Davis only helps justify these worries and concerns. After claiming that his office "absolutely does not" spy on Americans, Davis then admitted that groups that are deemed "anti-government" are a threat and are indeed being monitored.
The Obama White House, that beacon of transparency and openness, recently informed a federal judge that it will not disclose any information on the secret court opinion concerning the U.S. government illegally spying on Americans. This despite revelations from Intelligence Committee member Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) that this surveillance "circumvented the spirit of the law" and blatantly violated the Fourth Amendment.
Every time the U.S. government has been questioned or challenged on its illegal surveillance programs, it has predictably hidden behind the rubric of "national security."
The "national security" justification, however, as evidenced by the groups that are being targeted by the DHS and other surveillance agencies, does not mean a threat to the security, safety, or freedoms of Americans but vocal (and growing) threats to the ability of the U.S. government to wage permanent war, expand the warfare state, and grow its power.
The groups and activists that have been targeted do not represent one specific political ideology. But what they do have in common is a rejection of the narrow Left-Right spectrum of debate that is allowed to exist in America and a general support for civil liberties and peace. They oppose a regime built on corporatism, authoritarian claims of state power, and aggressive war. There are, of course, too many vested interests to count that depend upon this welfare-warfare state, and this power will not be relinquished easily. Of course these protesters would be the ones subject to strict surveillance and attention from Washington, the heart of this power center.
The documents detailing this surveillance highlight two essential aspects that Americans must come to grips with if a free and prosperous society is what we desire. First, it is that war is by far the biggest excuse used to grow coercive state power as well as the tendency of administrations to expand upon their predecessors usurpations. President George W. Bush essentially ushered in this modern surveillance state with warrantless wiretapping and authoritarian legislation. President Obama has granted even more power to this police-state apparatus beyond even what the Bush administration claimed.
Secondly, the fact that groups from both the right and the left are being monitored should help dispel Americans of the largely fictitious, narrow, and arbitrary labels of "liberal" and "conservative" that keep us at each other's throats. Despite the rhetoric, the fundamental principles behind public policy changes little regardless of which wing of the imperial bird of prey happens to be in charge. One party initiates, the other consolidates.
The U.S. may be spying on Americans that threaten its power to impose global hegemony and shred the Bill of Rights, but as more and more Americans begin to reject the false Left-Right paradigm and look for solutions outside of this tiny box of approved opinion, the DHS may find that there are too many of us to monitor.
After all, what does it say about a government that feels so threatened by peaceful protesters and dissent?