In a move driven by Trumpism and the desire to help Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a letter to the Biden administration pretending to be concerned about a new program that gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) new capabilities to keep spying on us.
Jordan sent the letter last week in response to the recent initiative launched by the Biden administration that teams up Big Tech companies with big government in order to make it easier to share our private information between the public and private sectors.
In announcing the partnership, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly stated that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) would be coordinating the effort to develop national cyber defense planning across government agencies and the Big Tech private sector.
If not for the fact that this partnership between Big Tech and big government has been in the works for several years, Jordan’s concern about government spying on us would be something to cheer. But Jordan is only pretending to be concerned because it was Trump and the Republican Party that made this new partnership possible — despite their worn-out attacks on Big Tech.
To begin with, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was created in November 2018 by Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. According to the “Safety over Liberty Theatre” players, CISA would operate under the umbrella of DHS and be “responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.”
Two years later, Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) took the Republican measure a step further when he introduced the Cybersecurity Vulnerability Identification and Notification (CVIN) Act in January 2020, a bill that requires data-sharing between DHS and CISA anytime government deems it necessary to prevent a cybercrime.
Shortly after CVIN was introduced, Trump and Trumpist Republicans were looking at ways to expand government’s spying powers, and they found it in an amendment to the PATRIOT Act presented by Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s amendment included provisions empowering the FBI to collect the web-browsing and search histories of Americans . . . WITHOUT A WARRANT!
And in another amendment, McConnell proposed giving the attorney general’s office complete oversight of the FISA Court to ensure “accuracy and completeness” of FBI surveillance submissions to the secret Court. This amendment would have increased Bill Barr’s oversight of Trump’s political enemies while simultaneously expanding government’s power to spy on every American.
In the words of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):
“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’s relevant to an investigation.” (emphasis mine)
In December 2020 — Trump was spreading fake news about why he lost the election and planning for the January 6 insurrection — we learned in letters from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) that the federal government used Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to track websites we visited in 2019. And in January 2021, we learned that analysts for the Defense Intelligence Agency had been spying on our smartphones over recent years without a warrant.
During all this time, Jim Jordan had no concerns about government spying “on the social media communications of American citizens” as he alleged in his letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week.
Jordan was allegedly concerned about DHS’s “use of non-governmental entities to engage in this warrantless surveillance” because it was “designed to circumvent legal restrictions that prohibit law enforcement and intelligence agencies from spying on Americans.”
He also said that DHS spying would “have serious consequences for the civil liberties of all Americans,” and he called the new partnership between Big Tech and big government “just the latest example of the Biden administration’s continued disregard for American civil liberties.”
Jordan is requesting a staff-level briefing with the House Judiciary Committee on the DHS initiative to expand domestic surveillance of social media platforms and other online communications networks. He is also requesting any related documents including those regarding the legality of contracting with non-government entities to perform “warrantless surveillance of American citizens” by September 1.
I’m sure that deadline is completely arbitrary and has nothing to do with the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11. Surely, Republicans like Jim Jordan wouldn’t stoop so low as to combine the events of that tragic day with the increase of government spying programs we’ve lived under since then to engage in a little political fearmongering theatre, would they?
The federal government has been violating our constitutional rights under the PATRIOT Act since its inception. According to John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, “[it] violates at least six of the ten original amendments known as the Bill of Rights — the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth amendments — and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth as well.”
Republican attacks on government’s spying power are nothing but propaganda designed to help them win elections while simultaneously working on new ways to give DHS more control over our lives. And from the PATRIOT Act to the recent alliance between Big Tech and big government, Republicans and Democrats not only support government-spying, they want it to go on forever.
The so-called war against terrorism has been foundational to Washington’s tyrannical goal of expanding its power to spy on Americans, and it comes as no surprise to see Big Tech and big government teaming up to take a bite out of liberty.
So, the next time you read a headline about how Jim Jordan is concerned about DHS spying on us, remember . . . he’s only pretending.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.