What few outside of civil libertarians truly understood in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 is that all of those nifty expensive tools to fight “terrorism” with would one day be turned against the American people. The attacks gave the authoritarians that big government is filled with the perfect excuse to circumvent the Constitution and to begin to use mass surveillance against ordinary citizens with the full sanctioning of the rats in Congress. As controversial a figure as he may be, former government contractor turned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided a shocking series of documents that show just how far off the rails that the feds have gone with their implementation of a Big Brother total surveillance society.
The 9/11 attacks provided the ultimate opportunity for the Rahm Emanuel maxim of never letting a good crisis “go to waste” to be used in order to shore up the police state and it was never a question as to whether the snooping on suspected bad guys would expand to snooping on regular citizens, it was only a question of when. Now it is looking like even the IRS Gestapo has been using technology that was all sold to the sheep under the pretense of keeping them safe.
The Hill is reporting that “Senators Probe IRS Use of Surveillance Tools”:
Top lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding information on the Internal Revenue Service’s use of a controversial surveillance device.
Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sent a letter Thursday to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, pressing him on whether the agency is using devices that can track cellphones.
The message follows a report from The Guardian that the IRS spent thousands of dollars upgrading the technology — known as StingRays — that imitate cell towers to determine the location of cellphones. The devices can also gather information related to the phone’s owner or contacts.
Civil liberties activists have called attention this year to the practice of using the devices without a warrant. Leahy and Grassley said that the “devices indiscriminately gather information about the cell phones of innocent people who are simply in the vicinity of the device.”
“We were surprised to learn that IRS investigators may be using these devices,” they said.
They asked Lew to respond with information about whether the agency had used the technology and if it had policies in place governing the handling of data collected by the devices. They also asked whether the devices were used without a warrant.
Pressure from the two senators and public interest groups has already resulted in two agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, rolling out more stringent policies for the use of the devices.
Both agencies now require agents to obtain warrants to use the technology in some cases. Privacy advocates have expressed concerns, however, about exemptions in the policies.
But just because the Senate is going to be looking into this latest gross invasion on privacy rights doesn’t mean that anything will actually be done about it. Emperor Obama’s wet dream of a cybersecurity bill just sailed through Congress and as usual, the American people – who are subjected to ever increasing surveillance – had zero say in the process. It is always a crowd please in an election year to go after a hated agency like the Internal Revenue Service but at the end of the day nothing will be done to reign in any surveillance that is occurring. Outside of the state-corporate media there is no institution that has so abysmally failed as we continue to be dragged into full-blown fascism than the U.S. Congress with it’s failure to exercise even a minimal amount of oversight over a big government run amok.