In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 our government leaders went diving head first into a complete surveillance state, and haven’t looked back. We have all heard of the USA Patriot Act, sounds nice right? Maybe somewhat innocuous, but its actually an acronym that is pretty haunting. Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.
Tools. What kind of tools? There’s a lot of tools in the government, but I suspect they didn’t mean those kind.
One would have to be pretty naive to assume that the interpretation of this act would not be expanded to the most broad application possible, and that is exactly what has happened. Over the years since its passage there have been rulings from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court making determinations that relevant data that can be collected is basically anything they want. Almost without limit. “Instead of being limited to the businesses and organizations listed above, FBI agents could request an order from FISC that requires any organization to produce “tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items).” Source. Ironically, China has programs very similar to this (which is why you need to stop doing those dumb ancestry DNA tests). Do we want China like policies here? Uh, negative.
But what is getting scary to me is the new trend we are seeing in the adaptation of the word terrorism, and how do we move back to the original intent of the law or abolish it all together?
So recently, we have seen the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) getting a bit….out of their arena. So let’s start there, maybe DHS should be abolished. Prior to the 9/11 attacks this agency did not exist, and over the years its mission has grown to include multiple areas outside the scope of its original mission. In my view, the department has shifted from protecting the homeland to protecting the narrative. The introduction of the Disinformation Governance Board really showed their hand. But what I find really startling, worrisome, incredible etc etc is DHS recent focus on “domestic extremism.”
“A March 2021 unclassified threat assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice, and DHS, noted that domestic violent extremists “who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.” The assessment pointed to newer “sociopolitical developments such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” that “will almost 4 certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] [sic] to try to engage in violence this year.” See: DHS Report
I am going to continue to reference this every chance I get because it speaks to a larger move to other those that have differing opinions, even if they are based in fact. That is a huge problem. So say you have these differing opinions? What is a “domestic violent extremist”? Is that another way of saying terrorist? What happens when you start calling speech violence? If you are familiar with Taylor Lorenz at all, you are fully aware that this is a tactic already in practice. What we now have is a department of the government flexing its muscles on its own citizens in the name of security, and the over broad interpretations of the PATRIOT Act have secured their actions as lawful. That is insane.
We are in an abusive relationship with our government. I visualize it typically like someone slapping you over and over and then going “whoa whoa chill out what is wrong with you? You are crazy” when you finally slap back. It is time to reevaluate how much of our freedoms we are willing to hand over to Big Brother. Am I safer when I can no longer exercise my rights as a US citizen because of a genuine fear of being labeled an extremist? No, I am not. You are not. These agencies are constantly exposing their failures, e.g. the US/Mexico border. Approximately 600,000 people entered our country illegal and never accounted for. Who are these people? What are their intentions here? Our national security is often jeopardized, but it isn’t by the people that love our country enough to stand up for its founding principles. So when we see all this abuse, all these failures, why are we constantly giving these nameless faceless bureaucrats more power over our lives?
DHS, gotta go. The PATRIOT Act, gotta go.