Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Do I Oppress Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

By Dave Dargo

In my previous post I made a comment, "In a year where we've seen unprecedented attacks against many of our rights by a national government gone wild..."

I will expand on that thought here. At some point we have to realize that it's not one or two mistakes made by a rogue government employee in some distant office but, rather, a concerted effort by both the national and local governments to exert more and more control over our daily lives.

Fast and Furious
The first scandal seemed to only involve firearms being smuggled into Mexico in a botched operation to uncover actual gun runners. Conspiracy theorists, however, note that the operation picked up steam at the same time leading Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill were calling for increased gun control measures because of the unchecked flow of assault rifles from the United States into Mexico. The Department of Justice never did answer all the questions posed by the government oversight committees.

But, hey, what's one minor scandal in the otherwise smooth operation of the national government. Never mind for a moment that U.S. law enforcement officers and others were killed by some of the very weapons our national government helped criminals smuggle into Mexico.

Paramilitary Police Raids in America
The CATO Institute published a study outlining the increasing use of paramilitary police raids in the United States now estimated to occur 40,000 times per year. The reports included stories of swat teams raiding garden clubs and destroying organic vegetable gardens in the mistaken pursuit of marijuana farms. The CATO Institute also published a map showing a sample of some of the botched raids in this country.

The EPA Turns Everyday Life Into A Federal Crime
U.S. Senator Rand Paul reports on a number of cases where the EPA has gone overboard and charged, prosecuted and jailed people who were polluting with non-pollutants. One highlight from the story involves John Rapanos who was charged with "polluting" the wetlands by leveling the soil on his property. Under the "migratory molecule" rule, the Army Corps claims that any isolated wetland can fall under federal jurisdiction because there is a speculative possibility that a water molecule from one wetland may reach another navigable waterway. In Mr. Rapanos' case, the nearest navigable water is roughly 20  miles from his property.

IRS Runs Roughshod Over Conservative Groups
The IRS targeted conservative groups for special harassment including those groups who outlined "government debt" in their advocacy application or advocated to "make America a better place to live". These groups were required to answer questions such as what books members were reading, what members had posted on their Facebook accounts and the content of member's prayers.

The IRS also audited conservative groups, including the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Groups get audited all the time but what's remarkable about this particular audit is that it occurred in 2011 as the group was gearing up to campaign against the Democratic Party and President Obama.

IRS and Federal Election Commission Are Said To Collude Against Conservative Groups
One of the individuals involved in the IRS targeting of conservative advocacy groups was also involved as an attorney for the Federal Election Commission. The email referenced in the above linked article suggests an FEC attorney sought information from the IRS in order to influence an upcoming vote by the six FEC commissioners. The legal issue is that the FEC is prohibited by law from conducting an investigation into an organization before the FEC's six commissioners have voted to do so, yet the FEC attorney started that investigation in order to influence the upcoming vote.

Are we not to expect the IRS and FEC to collude in order to stifle political dissent?

The NSA Saga
As it turns out, contrary to Congressional under-oath testimony, the NSA does indeed spy on ordinary Americans. Worse than that, they get the support of a court system for some of what they do and they defy the courts for other things.

It turns out the NSA was listening in on real-time conversations and improperly collected calling records of ordinary Americans.

But wait, it gets better. We now learn that the NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with foreign governments. In this manner the NSA can claim they're following the law by not spying on Americans but buy turning raw data over to foreign governments they can have the foreign governments report back any interesting information they find.

The NSA and DEA
Let's not leave the issue to just spying. Let's include the DEA and perjury against Americans in court proceedings. It turns out the NSA is turning data over to the DEA for criminal investigations. However, the DEA can't legally use that information so they have to come up with plausible "parallel construction" of the information. In other words, the NSA gives information to the DEA. The DEA uses that information to create a case against someone. In court, though, the DEA makes up a completely different story about how they came about the information so as not to implicate the NSA.

At this point, the DEA is presenting false evidence against someone in a court of law. But the person's probably guilty anyway so it must be O.K.

It's Not Just Electronic Records
The United States Postal Service confirmed in the beginning of August that they photograph every piece of mail that goes through their system. Every letter you send is photographed by an agency that makes those photographs available to government agents when they so desire them.

International Travelers Targeted When Warrants Impossible To Get
Let's say the government wants to look at your computer and cell phone but doesn't have anywhere near the evidence necessary to procure a warrant. That's not a problem for them if you travel internationally. They simply add your name to the automated watch list and get your travel itinerary. When you return to the country they'll confiscate your electronic devices and keep them for however long they wish in order to examine them. The Border Patrol will send copies of your data to any other government agency that's interested. Basically, if you're an international traveler then no warrant is no problem.

The NSA Is At It Again By Corrupting Private Cryptographic Efforts
This one's a bit technical but is related to the known desire of the government, through the NSA, to be able to intercept all communications. People want their privacy so they encrypt their communications using some fairly common cryptographic processes. Well, those communications aren't so secret. It appears that the NSA has been inserting people onto the standards committees responsible for creating cryptographic standards to ensure that they can decode the communications.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist but it is extremely difficult to look at all of these things that have come to light in the last year or so and not think that governments have gotten out of control.

Your private phone call records are now recorded and kept by the government. Your mail is now photographed by the government. The government will manipulate the Border Patrol in order to gain physical access to your electronic devices. The EPA will stretch regulations as far as possible to hurt your private activity. The DEA now lies in court as a matter of policy in order to get convictions. The IRS wields its power to silence political opponents. Guns are smuggled to criminal gangs in order to justify expanded gun control laws.

Don't make the mistake of thinking these are isolated incidents; these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

Don't take freedom for granted. Become aware, become active and work to rid this nest of rats from positions of power.

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