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Police State Spying Powers Increase under Obama, Napolitano

According to a June 18 AP article, Obama’s Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano has defended monitoring Internet communications as a "civil liberties trade-off the US must make to beef up national security." In addition, she said "it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed." Unfortunately, it is incomprehensible how "beefing up" national security can be both a civil liberties trade-off and not a sacrifice of liberty.
 
This contradiction betrays the sad reality that the Obama administration has followed the lead of the Bush administration in escalating the abridgment of civil liberties in the US to protect "national security."
 
According to Napolitano, there have been an increasing number of homegrown terrorists who have used the Internet to "reached out" to Islamic extremists for training and inspiration; and the AP article points to the recent Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and accused Fort Hood Texas shooter Major Nadal Hasan as possible examples.
 
It is not clear, however, how a relatively few instances of homegrown terrorists who may have been influenced by their online activities to become radicalized can warrant government abridgment of the privacy of millions of Americans. However, it is not hard to see how easily such a principle could be expanded to include any private activities that may possibly be linked to radicalization. Thus, the communications that may occur inside a mosque may be deemed grist for the mill of government monitoring. And the same logic could well be applied to private communications in the homes of Americans because there may possibly be plans afoot by a few homegrown, would-be terrorists.
 

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ross Wolf
Entered on:

U.S. Domestic Spying Increasingly Target Americans, Not Terrorists To Arrest Citizens and Forfeit Their Property.

Homeland Security to Fight Homegrown Terrorism recently got the power to monitor U.S. Citizens’ private Internet communications. But according to this article, there was no mention whether Homeland security’s monitoring of the Internet domestically would trash the Fourth Amendment, allowing government warrant-less searches to arrest Americans, forfeit the assets of Citizens not involved in terrorism? That is extremely important, Government too easily can take an innocent person’s hastily written email, Internet fax or phone call out of context to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause someone's arrest or Civil Asset Forfeiture of their property. Any information government derives from warrant-less electronic searches (that does not involve terrorism) should not be shared with law enforcement or allowed admissible in criminal and civil courts—when the purpose—of the surveillance, even with a warrant, was to prevent terrorism. Despite (illegal wiretapping) being against the law, U.S. spy agencies, e.g. NSA appear to share their warrant-less electronic surveillance of Americans under Bush II with law enforcement agencies and it appears private government contractors to cause the arrest of Americans and forfeiture of their property. In the U.S., government private contractors and their operatives, work so closely with law enforcement to arrest Americans and confiscate their property—sharing information, they appear to merge.

There are over 200 U.S. laws and violations mentioned in the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 and the Patriot Act that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture. Under federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. Government is only required to show “A preponderance of Civil Evidence”, little more than hearsay. That low standard of civil evidence lends itself to corrupt police to use perjured testimony of paid or coerced informants, to cause forfeiture of innocent person’s property. Increasingly police departments have become dependent on forfeiture to pay budget costs and officers’ salaries.

Rep. Henry Hyde’s bill HR 1658 passed, the “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” and effectively eliminated the “statue of limitations” for U.S. Government to civilly forfeit Property. The statute now runs five years from the date police claim they “learned” an asset became subject to forfeiture. With effectively no statute of limitations and the low standard of civil proof needed for government to forfeit property “A preponderance of civil Evidence”, it is problematic law enforcement and private government contractors—will increasingly want access to Citizens’ private electronic communications and’ private records. Under the Patriot Act, witnesses can be kept secret while being paid part of the assets they cause to be forfeited. The Patriot Act specifically mentions using Title 18USC asset forfeiture laws; those laws include a provision in Rep. Henry Hyde’s 2000 bill HR 1658—for “Retroactive Civil Asset Forfeiture” of “assets already subject to government forfeiture”, meaning " property already tainted by crime" provided “a property” was already part of or is “later connected” to a criminal investigation in progress" when HR.1658 passed in 2000. The Hyde bill left the door open forever, to forfeit any asset that might remotely be connected to a government investigation that began before 2000—discarding the prior five-year statute of limitations.

Most U.S. property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” This defense can become a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial of guilt to the government when questioned about committing a crime “even when you did not do it” may “involuntarily waive” your right to assert in your defense—that the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” past for prosecution: any fresh denial of guild, even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture. Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579. U.S.

U.S. Government domestic Spying increasingly circumvent the Fourth Amendment in the name of national security to target U.S. Citizens, Not Terrorists to Arrest Americans and to forfeit their Property. Congress recently gave Homeland Security the power to monitor U.S. Citizens’ private communications to prevent terrorism. Question: can Homeland Security use their new monitoring power to extract information from Citizen’s private Internet communications to prosecute Americans and forfeit their property for alleged crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism? If that is the case, government buried the Fourth Amendment.

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