Even as coronavirus hysteria begins to wind down and government at the state and federal levels loosens its iron-fisted grip on free men and women, COVID-19 is being used simultaneously by the government as leverage to move America ever closer to becoming an Orwellian dystopia.
Socialism and tyranny have grown during this so-called pandemic.
I’ve documented how Washington made Ivanka’s feminist socialist dream of government-mandated paid family leave a reality. One of the first coronavirus bailouts — Families First Coronavirus Response Act — included taxpayer-funded paid family leave and provisions for taxpayer-funded sick leave. Socialist ideals such as prison reform, so-called gun control, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal have also seen major advances.
Tyranny has also grown, becoming the new normal.
Last month, I wrote an article about how Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, was working his father-in-law to create a Patriot Act for healthcare. Kushner’s proposal would form a government/private sector partnership to create a new “surveillance and data collection system” to track
coronavirus Americans. In response, Apple and Google have been developing new hardware and software that will give Kushner exactly what he wants.
While the two tech giants claim that their tracking system will completely protect privacy, protecting privacy has never been the prime directive. The whole point of creating a Patriot Act for healthcare is to make the names, phone numbers, and locations of people available to the government in real-time. And as the NSA has shown us repeatedly, once Big Brother has this information, there’s no limit to what the government can do with it.
Speaking of the National Security Agency (NSA), for nearly a year, Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate have been looking for a way to expand and make permanent the agency’s spying powers. They’ve been unable to do so during that time due to the political ramifications of renewing the unconstitutional program, but the distraction of coronavirus hysteria could provide them the cover they need to get the job done.
After several kick-the-can-down-the-road deadline extensions for the PATRIOT Act and several FISA provisions — the most recent extension of 77 days took place back in March when they were bankrupting the country with record-breaking coronavirus bailouts — Trump and his compatriots in Congress are ready to make government spying a top priority.
Two provisions expiring at the end of the month in the PATRIOT Act — unless they extend them again — are Section 215 and Section 206.
Section 215 is where the NDS found the authority to acquire “business records” and other “tangible things” deemed “relevant” to fighting terrorism. Under a very broad interpretation of this section, the NSA justified the spying abuse brought to light by Edward Snowden a few years ago.
Section 206 contains provisions that allow the government to obtain authority from the FISA Court to conduct “roving” wiretaps, making it possible to surveil a person without providing the specific phone or computer they want to spy on.
Another spying provision involving FISA set to expire at the end of the month is the “Lone Wolf” surveillance program found in Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. This provision makes it possible for the government to obtain a FISA Court warrant that allows them to spy on people without showing that the suspect is an agent of a foreign power or even linked to terrorism.
Trump and McConnell want to use the renewal vote to make changes to FISA and the PATRIOT Act that will protect politicians while expanding government’s power to know anything about anyone, anytime, anywhere.
In the name of redressing what Trump and his cult call the FBI’s “witch hunt” over collusion with the Kremlin, McConnell wants to amend the PATRIOT Act to expressly permit the FBI to warrantlessly collect records on Americans’ web browsing and search histories. In a different amendment, he also wants to give Attorney General Barr (i.e. the White House) visibility into the “accuracy and completeness” of FBI surveillance submissions to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. If successful, the amendment will increase Barr’s oversight of surveillance on political candidates while expanding surveillance authorities on every other American.
One privacy activist called McConnell’s effort “two of the most cynical attempts to undermine surveillance reform I’ve ever seen.” And Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) concluded, “Under the McConnell amendment, Barr gets to look through the web browsing history of any American — including journalists, politicians, and political rivals — without a warrant, just by saying it is relevant to an investigation.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on reauthorizing these unconstitutional provisions in a bill that will combine the PATRIOT Act and FISA. And despite the sham concern over privacy rights by so-called conservatives like Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul, I’m pretty sure the spying programs will be renewed . . . because socialism and tyranny depend on it.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable and promotes conservative principles over political parties.