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The Deep State's Christmas Present to America: Surveillance That Never Ends

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Just in time for Christmas, the Deep State wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving: never-ending mass surveillance.

I'm not referring to the kind of surveillance carried out by that all-knowing and all-seeing Jolly Old St. Nick and his informant the Elf on the Shelf (although, to be fair, they have helped to acclimate us to a world in which we're always being watched and judged by higher authorities).

No, this particular bit of Yuletide gift-giving comes courtesy of the Deep State (a.k.a. the Surveillance State, Police State, Shadow Government and black-ops spy agencies).

If this power-hungry cabal gets its way, the government's power to spy on its citizens will soon be all-encompassing and permanent.

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As it now stands, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--the legal basis for two of the National Security Agency's largest mass-surveillance programs, "PRISM" and "Upstream"--is set to expire at the end of 2017.

"PRISM" lets the NSA access emails, video chats, instant messages, and other content sent via Facebook, Google, Apple and others. "Upstream" lets the NSA worm its way into the internet backbone--the cables and switches owned by private corporations like AT&T that make the internet into a global network--and scan traffic for the communications of tens of thousands of individuals labeled "targets."

Section 702 has been used as an end-run around the Constitution to allow the government to collect the actual content of Americans' emails, phone calls, text messages and other electronic communication without a warrant.

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Under Section 702, the government collects and analyzes over 250 million internet communications every year. There are estimates that at least half of these contain information about U.S. residents, many of whom have done nothing wrong. This information is then shared with law enforcement and "routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security."

Mind you, Section 702 gives the government access to the very content of your conversations (phone calls, text messages, video chats), your photographs, your emails.

So beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government's choosing. Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.

For all intents and purposes, we now have a fourth branch of government.

This fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.

The government's "technotyranny" surveillance apparatus has become so entrenched and entangled with its police state apparatus that it's hard to know anymore where law enforcement ends and surveillance begins.

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The short answer: they have become one and the same entity.

The police state has passed the baton to the surveillance state.

This hasn't fazed President Trump who, much like his predecessors, has thus far marched in lockstep with the dictates of the police state.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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