The Path Toward Suppression of the Opposition
As Andrew McCarthy points out, government surveillance experienced a justifiable increase after “attacks that claimed more American lives than Pearl Harbor and capped a series of atrocities stretching back several years.” As many on the left and right have been deliberate in emphasizing, however, that enhancement bears close watching.
Indeed, the greatest argument against all such steps is that, while the official first requesting such authority may use it for the stated purposes, those who come after may take advantage of increased apathy and abuse the power, stretching it beyond intent. Mr. McCarthy suggests that we might not have to wait long to see that process in action:
For eight years, we’ve been treated to hysterical rhetoric from Democrats, including Barack Obama, about the scourge of “domestic spying.” Now that the Obama administration is openly calling for domestic spying — the real thing, not the smear used against President Bush — they’re suddenly silent.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the FBI, has issued an intelligence assessment on what it calls “Rightwing Extremism.” It is appalling. The nakedly political document announces itself as a “federal effort to influence domestic public opinion.” It proceeds, in what it acknowledges is the absence of any “specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,” to speculate that “rightwing” political views might “drive” such violence — violence, it further surmises, that might be abetted by military veterans returning home after putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for good measure, in violation of both FBI guidelines and congressional statutes, the Obama administration promises scrutiny of ordinary Americans’ political views, speech, and assembly.
“Appalling” is certainly the apt term. Among the ideas that might land one on a watch list is apparently a preference for “state or local authority” on various matters. And in keeping with the view that state and local governments are mainly organs for the insinuation of federal power, the Department of Homeland Security “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.”
If any of my fellow Rhode Islanders who happen to be of public employ — specifically those of the officious, wormy, power-grubbing sort — would like to bring the Anchor Rising contributors in for questioning, presumably you know where to find us.