by George Ralsley
Our friends at WND.com recently alerted us to the fact that privacy watchdogs are raising the alarm over the Democrats’ alternative to President Trump’s border-wall plan. They see the high technology “wall” that includes surveillance as another dangerous step toward the creation of a surveillance state, such as communist China.
“Congressional Democrats, looking for alternatives to President Trump’s demand for a border wall, recently offered a border ‘security’ proposal that suggests expanding surveillance at the border. That could lead to new funding for technologies that invade the privacy of immigrants, travelers, and American citizens living near the border,” warned the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
“Congress should not counter President Trump’s calls for a physical wall with a tech wall. Unchecked use of surveillance tech undermines everyone’s right to privacy, especially the most vulnerable members of society. We stand with more than two dozen civil liberties groups who have told Congressional Democrats that we oppose such measures,” EFF said.
The privacy groups say new tech could include automated license-plate readers, which collect sensitive location data, or more biometrics.
“The federal government already conducts face surveillance of all travelers (U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike) on certain international flights. Other threats include iris scans, voiceprints, or even collection of DNA information,” EFF said.
The organization, along with several like-minded groups, fears mass surveillance at the border would threaten civil liberties for all.
Unfortunately, corporate America, like the Democrats, is all in favor of more technology and surveillance.
Nelson Balido, managing principal at Balido and Associates, chairman of the Border Commerce and Security Council, and a member of the Obama-era Homeland Security Advisory Council, recently wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, “Investing in border security infrastructure is important, but Congress should dedicate funds to technological solutions, rather than a continuous concrete barrier that anyone who works in border security knows is a waste of money.”
Baldo went on to say, “When it comes to security along the U.S.-Mexico border, what’s needed is a more strategic initiative relying on 21st-century technologies. And the $197 million the White House requested for border security technology is laughably insufficient. In a time of ubiquitous smartphones, autonomous vehicles, drones, artificial intelligence and increasingly sophisticated monitoring equipment, we have the expertise and tools to build an effective virtual wall. The United States is the richest, most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world. Why would we use a crude 15th-century technology (i.e., a physical wall) when we have such a wealth of tools at our disposal?”
Baldo’s language sounds suspiciously like the talking points distributed by Democrats in response to President Trump’s decision to shut down the government rather than sign a budget without border wall funding.
But our concern is not the political gamesmanship here – it is securing the border without compromising the privacy and Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens at the border or in the interior of the country.
The case of the government’s intrusion into award-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson’s computer already tells us the lengths to which unaccountable government agents will go to investigate someone for their own political purposes.
For years privacy advocates and civil libertarians have been mocked for claiming to see the “black helicopters” of some nameless government agency flying around America.
The government never admitted to being behind the black helicopter sightings. However, during the “progressive” Obama years it did admit to a new and troubling invasion of the privacy of law-abiding Americans – the use of unmanned drones for wide area domestic surveillance.
Most Americans probably think it is a good idea to use drones overseas to seek out and if necessary, kill those who make war or plan to conduct terrorist raids against America or Americans.
But what happens when those drones follow us home?
Who should decide if, after government surveillance, one of our fellow Americans constitutes an “enemy of the state” and who gets to decide if that person lives or dies?
According to Democrat former Attorney General Eric Holder, it is the President alone who gets to decide who lives or dies and that domestic drone strikes may be used to apply lethal force to Americans, in America.
According to Holder, “President Barack Obama could order the use of deadly force against an American inside the United States,” the Attorney General said in a letter to Senator Rand Paul.
That an already oppressive and out-of-control federal agency like the EPA is operating a domestic surveillance program without specific legislation and probable cause is alarming. However, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles domestically by the U.S. military for surveillance that could lead to the killing of Americans the President deems “enemies” is truly frightening.
But that’s what the Democrats want as an alternative to giving President Trump a political win on the border wall.
When the surveillance targets are drug trafficking cartels, human smugglers or jihadis who have sworn to destroy our country and our way of life Americans may very well applaud if the surveillance results in extra-judicial, extra-military killings.
We already know that the Obama administration abused the existing FISA protections and undertook surveillance of Sharyl Attkisson and many of President Trump’s political associates, and maybe even then-candidate Donald Trump as well.
How long will it take before the Democrats’ surveillance regime moves beyond the border zone to encompass the entire country?
How long before that surveillance (and the killings Democrat Attorney General Eric Holder said were legal) are not limited to persons at the border who pose a clear and present danger or imminent threat to America when the President’s campaign manager is in on the targeting meetings, as he was during the Obama years?
With a Democrat President’s campaign manager in the room, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see the surveillance (and killings) move from those who pose an imminent threat to those who are merely politically unpopular and might gain the President a few points in the polls if they were rubbed-out.
The toll-free Capitol Switchboard is (1-866-220-0044). We urge CHQ readers and friends to contact their Representative and Senators to tell them a low-tech wall at the border is the best defense against illegal entry to the United States and the growth of the surveillance state Democrats have long wanted to create.