Government Surveillance vs. the American People

As quickly as the Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA) reauthorization hit the news headlines, it faded into oblivion. Like a burglar in the night, Congress and the president got away with more theft of our rights. Perhaps we are too busy with work, the lives of celebrities, sports, or whatever to care about our rights, but this surveillance-state mentality that Edward Snowden warned us about continues.

If a foreign target of a government investigation has information of any sort that is deemed part of an investigation (e.g. a journalist working overseas to uncover the events taking place in a war, like the Syrian Civil War, may uncover information relevant to an investigation and may be investigated as a result) comes in contact with any Americans along the way, those Americans can have their information collected in a database to be used at a later time. Although Section 702 had been utilized regularly in the past, it had been abused by government officials and halted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISC or FISA Court) on a couple of occasions because of constitutional concerns.

In addition, this abuse has now been ingrained into the new law that just passed and was signed by President Trump. Government agents can now legally (though unconstitutionally) collect mass amounts of phone calls, emails, texts, etc. if it is somehow argued that it is related to an investigation. This has the potential to sweep up the communications of millions of Americans without any type of probable cause whatsoever. Again, this is something that was already happening, but the fact that it is now part of legislation makes it worse and less likely for there to be recourse for Americans. Government agents can sift through their collections of data without warrants, but if they do actually need a warrant to pursue a target or investigate an individual for an unrelated crime, they can always get a rubber stamp from FISC, which hardly ever invalidates requests by government agents and does not even have to hear any counterargument from the target because the court meets in secret and away from the public eye.

Bulk collection and spying are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which requires government agents to have probable cause and a warrant that specifically states the place, person, and items to be searched or seized. Even the secretive FISC does not meet these expectations, and it is impossible for someone to challenge government spying if he or she is unaware of it in the first place. Are we willing to accept a police-surveillance state in the United States, or would we rather be a free country? If we choose the latter, action is needed, and spreading the word is a good way to start. While we are attending Super Bowl parties this weekend, enjoying football, or laughing at the commercials, let us also take a moment to reflect on what is happening in the United States in the realm of national security and individual liberty. There is a competition between the strengthening of government power and ability to spy on Americans and the American people. We the people may be the underdogs in this story, but let us fight back and not allow the government to take the championship in this arena.

Thank you for reading, and if you would like to see past blogs or check out my book, The Global Bully, please visit my website.
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Published on February 01, 2018 03:29
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