View Full Version : Homeland Security commits political spying

04-30-2019, 09:27 AM
I got an email from the MoveOn group saying that it is now revealed Homeland Security has been spying on political groups that oppose Trump with emphasis on those who opposed his migrant policies.

I'm finding some online references to that, including spying on journalists who track the migrant caravans, but I'm not finding anything from the more recognized news sources.

Has anyone seen anything on this? Using law enforcement as a political tool is a common trick for tyrants.

S.V. Airlie
04-30-2019, 09:29 AM
And they're now submitting a request for MORE funding!

Old Dryfoot
04-30-2019, 09:41 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if the OP is true, DHS has been running the “Media Monitoring Services” program for a year now.


04-30-2019, 09:58 AM
There's quite a lot out there if you search on DHS - Media Monitoring Services.

This from Snopes..

Ian McColgin
04-30-2019, 10:00 AM
ACLU has issues: https://www.aclu.org/other/more-about-department-homeland-security-spying

And this from last year:

Government Spying on Immigrants in America is Now Fair Game. What Next?
In early February, the existence of a draft Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report came to light, which calls for long-term surveillance of Sunni Muslim immigrants.
March 19, 2018
Azadeh Shahshahani THE GUARDIAN

Internal documents obtained from the FBI and DHS last year also showed how the agencies are surveilling the Movement for Black Lives, bringing into mind tactics of Cointelpro, an FBI program which secretly and illegally conducted surveillance on the civil rights movement in order to disrupt Americans’ ability to organize politically.

But these are not the only types of surveillance this administration is engaged in.

On 18 October, DHS implemented a new rule to track the internet activity of all visa applicants, visa holders and legal permanent residents. The rule would also apply to naturalized US citizens.

The new rule would track and store social media account information and other highly sensitive data as part of individuals’ immigration files. The policy would allow DHS to collect and track immigrants’ social media accounts handles as well as aliases, and search results from both public search engines as well as commercial databases. This kind of mass surveillance overwhelmingly impacts the dignity and fairness extended to American immigrants, more so than other Americans.

As an outspoken naturalized citizen who routinely takes public positions on government policy, I find the rule highly problematic. To me, it seems like it was designed with the specific purpose of hampering our freedom of speech, in line with the Trump administration’s other chilling tactics of attacks on the press and crackdowns on protesters who do not fall in line with the policies of this administration.

Do I now, every time I want to post to social media, have to censor myself with the full knowledge that Big Brother is watching?

This rule is in clear violation of the constitution, specifically running afoul of the first amendment, negatively impacting our free speech and free association rights. This means that as immigrants, we are forced to have second thoughts before freely posting our political views to social media, especially if they are in opposition to government policies. In a country that values its democracy, how can we allow for programs like this to exist?

This rule also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the fifth amendment as it targets naturalized citizens specifically, not the native-born or those with a US citizen parent. We do not have two-tiered citizenship in this country. Naturalized citizens are to be afforded all the rights and privileges of citizenship, aside from becoming US president. This rule treats naturalized citizens as a potential threat and is clearly meant to force us to limit our political activities and expressions.

This is not the first time that immigrants, Muslim Americans and communities of color have been subjected to government spying. Surveillance of our communities has been going on for a very long time, impacting us more than other Americans.

After 9/11, much of the surveillance became focused on Muslim communities. The Patriot Act made it easier for the US government to obtain personal information without checks and balances. FBI agents can obtain personal information such as phone records, computer records, credit history and banking information on the basis of National Security Letters (NSLs), which are similar to subpoenas.

The NSLs do not require judicial approval; therefore no check is in place on how the FBI gathers and uses personal information. From 2003 until 2005, the FBI issued 143,074 NSLs, from which there were only 53 reported criminal referrals to prosecutors. The act also allows for “Sneak and Peek” searches in peoples’ homes or offices.

These broad surveillance tactics have a direct impact on our communities. Multiple social justice organizations have expressed concern that the government could be using the Patriot Act to target their members for investigation, and have stated that this has inhibited the religious and political expression of their members.

The attorney general guidelines in 2008 also authorized “domain management assessments” which allow the FBI to map out communities across America by race and ethnicity, using crude stereotypes to hypothesize about the crimes they are believed to be likely to commit.

This covert surveillance, now culminating in overt spying on immigrants, is designed as a tactic to control and fracture dissent. It is meant to keep immigrants’ political activity in check and to keep us from feeling like full members of society. The message this new rule sends to American immigrants, and specifically naturalized citizens, is that we are not entitled to the full exercise of our first amendment rights as native-born citizens are. The government will be watching us closely and if it determines that we have crossed the line in any way, it will find some way of coming after us.

For many of us, this is eerily reminiscent of what we were facing in countries where we immigrated from: systematic surveillance, retribution for political speech, self-censorship. These tactics of repression are what we may have thought we left behind when we arrived in the US.

In response to such egregious spying and regulations meant to chill our freedom of speech, we immigrants should not self-censor or hold back on freely expressing our political opinions. If we were to do that, we would hand this administration which is intent on violating our rights a clear victory, dealing a huge blow to the first amendment and other constitutional protections.

Azadeh Shahshahani is a human rights attorney based in Atlanta. She is Legal & Advocacy Director with Project South and a past president of the National Lawyers Guild.


David G
04-30-2019, 10:03 AM
"When there is an accumulation of money and power into fewer and fewer hands, people with the mentality of gangsters come to the fore."

Each of these examples is an outrage, and an affront to the principles that (should) guide us. And they should be exposed, confronted, and fought.

But don't forget that the key is in the first phrase, and the solution is hiring politicians who understand that... or educating those that don't.

04-30-2019, 10:56 AM
This podcast https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/podcasts/the-daily/far-right-extremism-united-states.html talks about the RWW freakout when the government started looking at the rise of militia groups and the demise of those surveillance programs. Where is the outrage now?

04-30-2019, 03:03 PM
I seem to recall that DHS chose to deny two immigration lawyers the right to cross the border into Mexico to speak with the would-be immigrants on the first caravan from Central America. Since when can our government selectively choose who can and cannot cross the border into a neighboring country? The US once denied travel to Cuba to ALL US citizens. A blanket denial is one thing -- the blocking of individuals is a horse's @$$ of a different color.

04-30-2019, 03:07 PM
DHS is above the law - has been since Bush Jr. invented it.

04-30-2019, 03:57 PM
DHS is above the law - has been since Bush Jr. invented it.
And ALL of our spineless congressmen voted yes.

About this unprecedented outrage, I am reminded of Richard Nixon's enemies list, of Jedgar the lingerie model's harrassment of anyone he disliked, of Bobby Kennedy's illegal harrassment of Sam Giancana .... it's a long-standing practice. I would be more impressed if you people were upset when your own guy was doing it.

04-30-2019, 04:04 PM
#10, What he said.
It would be more surprising if it wasn't happening.

04-30-2019, 04:09 PM
DHS is above the law - has been since Bush Jr. invented it.

He had to invent it to obscure the fact that he was asleep at the wheel!

04-30-2019, 04:11 PM
And ALL of our spineless congressmen voted yes.

About this unprecedented outrage, I am reminded of Richard Nixon's enemies list, of Jedgar the lingerie model's harrassment of anyone he disliked, of Bobby Kennedy's illegal harrassment of Sam Giancana .... it's a long-standing practice. I would be more impressed if you people were upset when your own guy was doing it.

I was furious & wrote both my senators & my congressman. I told one senator how mad I was in person. I'm afraid they all got swept up in the hysteria - just as they did with the "Patriot" Act.

05-02-2019, 02:37 PM
I was furious & wrote both my senators & my congressman.
The last invasion they were going to have (or maybe a couple back, now) I left a message on Pelosi's machine :

"If you vote for this, I swear to God I will vote in every election that ever happpens forevermore, from dog catcher to president. And I will vote Republican, I don't care who it is or how disgusting they are. You and your hypocritical party will never ever again have even one vote from me."

Don't know if that message got through but it was something she actually cared about so maybe. And we didn't march off to kill another few hundred thousand from 30,000 feet that time.

I do think a guillotine would work better tho.