Lawless Spying in America to Obstruct First Amendment Freedoms - by Stephen Lendman
The ACLU has released numerous reports of illegal spying. They include federal, state and local SARs (suspicious activity reporting) programs that encourage police, intelligence and homeland security officials, emergency responders, and members of the public to spy on neighbors, reporting any "suspicious" activities to authorities.
In an environment of fear, commonplace activities may be misinterpreted, increasing chances to get innocent people on terrorist watch lists. As a result, their names and vital information will be in law enforcement/intelligence data bases, their personal safety and reputations jeopardized.
Using new intelligence sharing systems like fusion centers enables easy access of Joint Terrorism Task Forces and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Information Sharing Environment (ISE), as well as local police-collected information.
In Terry v. Ohio (1968), the Supreme Court established "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity as the standard for police stops to investigate further. Under Title 28, Part 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations, law enforcement agencies getting federal funds "shall collect and maintain criminal intelligence information (on an individual) only if there is reasonable suspicion (of involvement) in criminal conduct or activity," and what's collected is relevant.
SARs, however, threaten civil liberties by encouraging indiscriminate spying, jeopardizing innocent people unfairly. They're similar to various Bush administration schemes, including:
-- a signing statement to the 2006 Postal Accountability Act giving the president authority to order opening US citizens' mail without a warrant;
-- sweeping warrantless wiretapping and other surveillance in violation of FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), amended in 2008 to let telecom companies spy on their customers for the government;