The Biden administration is ramping up efforts to spy on American citizens who disagree with the Democratic Party.
According to a new report, the White House is seeking to outsource surveillance to private firms to keep tabs on “extremist chatter” online without probable cause.
Essentially, the White House is looking for creative ways to sidestep legal limitations on its surveillance powers.
Seeking new power to surveil “extremists”
Under law, the Department of Homeland Security cannot infiltrate private chat groups, such as by using a fake identity, without probable cause. They are limited to gathering information posted publicly on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
The DHS is said to desire bypassing this by using outside firms to access encrypted chats used by right-wing organizations like the Proud Boys. “We are exploring with our lawyers, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy colleagues, how we can make use of outside expertise,” an anonymous official at DHS said.
Officially, however, the DHS hotly contested the “blatantly false” claims and insisted they are not contemplating anything unconstitutional.
“All of our work to address the threat of domestic terrorism is done consistent with the Constitution and other applicable law, and in close coordination with our privacy and civil liberties experts,” the DHS statement added.
Biden’s war on terror
The initiative appears to be the latest shot across the bow in a new “war on terror” being waged by the Biden administration against what it calls “domestic violent extremism.” A big question is what defines an “extremist,” and who gets to define it. Civil libertarians and many conservatives have expressed concern that the White House is using the Jan. 6 riot, and the pretext of a pervasive right-wing threat, to justify eroding civil liberties and cracking down on political dissent from mainstream conservatives and Trump supporters.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been highly critical of the burgeoning “war on terror,” flagged the latest news in a tweet.
Guantanamo is still opened, filled with people who have been in cages in the middle of an ocean for *two decades* with no trial and much torture, and its existence has been banished from US discourse with few exceptions. https://t.co/0nIZbRZT9R https://t.co/zojGl5dxDR
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 3, 2021
Will these efforts be limited to targeting actual extremists? And will they target all extremists regardless of political affiliation? Will they include left-wing groups like Antifa, who Biden once called an “idea,” or only those on the right
What remains absolutely certain is that the White House is all systems go on this new “war.” In his his first big speech to Congress last week, Biden affirmed his view that “white supremacy” is the greatest security threat America faces, and called the Jan. 6 riot the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”