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Mike German was fired by the FBI for exposing their cover up. He now works for the ACLU and is speaking out about how the government targets people based on religion and politics, with little oversight.  (Source: Network World)
Feds have little respect for your privacy, Constitution

The police are watching you.  If you're the wrong religion, they'll spy on your every move.  If you voice the wrong political opinions they'll be watching you.  According to Mike German, a 16-year veteran with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, this is happening right in the U.S.

Mr. German has become the FBI's worst nightmare.  Fed up with the abuses of privacy he was seeing, he complain to higher authorities and was promptly fired by the FBI.  Recently he became the ACLU's Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy [press release]. And he's speaking up about what he witnessed.

States Mr. German in a recent interview with Network World:

The most disturbing thing we've uncovered is the scope of domestic intelligence activities taking place today. Domestic spying is now being done by a host of federal agencies (FBI, DOD, DHS, DNI) as well as state and local law enforcement and even private companies. Too often this spying targets political activity and religious practices. We've documented intelligence activities targeting or obstructing First Amendment-protected activity in 33 states and DC.

He says that this Orwellian atmosphere could leave the U.S. a far different beast than the proud beacon of freedom it once was.  He states, "The biggest threat is that the increase surveillance of political activity will create a chilling effect that will dissuade people from exercising their rights, which will cause significant harm to participatory democracy."

He states that the "War on Terror" will continue to serve as an excuse for federal agencies to trample civil liberties.  He says that there are no clear-cut guidelines as to when you get put on a "watchlist" and are spied on by federal agents.  It's impossible to find out if your on a list and equally impossible to dispute or ask to be removed from a list.  

He also blasts TSA "enhanced pat-down" procedures and body scanners, calling them "unreasonable invasions of privacy that do not enhance security."

Given the Supreme Courts interpretation that privacy is a fundamental human right and thus Constitutionally protected by the Ninth Amendment, and given the First Amendments protections concerning freedom of speech and religion, Mr. German's claims are alarming.  Are U.S. federal employees deliberately spying on citizens and violating their rights, without the slightest legal accusation?

It'd be easy to dismiss Mr. German's claims as the words of a disgruntled employee.  But consider Mr. German's story of his departure from the agency:

I left the FBI when the DOJ Inspector General failed to investigate an FBI cover-up of a failed FBI counterterrorism investigation I reported, or protect me from official retaliation that resulted. I reported the information to Sen. Grassley and resigned. Grassley put pressure on the IG, so almost two years later the IG issued a report that showed the FBI falsified and backdated records about the case and retaliated against me for reporting it. I joined the ACLU two years later because I knew from my counterterrorism work that protecting civil liberties and keeping law enforcement accountable is what keeps America safe from terrorism and other crime.

Mr. German was clearly vindicated in the case that led to his dismissal.  The fact that the FBI tried to cover up its own wrongdoing and then punished Mr. German certainly damages its credibility and offers support for Mr. German's claims.

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By dgingeri on 2/8/2011 1:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
I only paid $5000 in federal income taxes last year. However, I also paid over $3000 in federal excise taxes on gas, and $7000 in social security and medicare I will never see again. I bet you paid a lot more in both of those than I did. Don't forget about their hidden taxes.

If they don't get you one way, they'll get you another.

By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 1:29:50 PM , Rating: 2
How do you only pay $5000 in federal income tax and $7000 in Social Security?

And my $14,000 figure was all taxes combined. Social Security I'll never see again. So I group it in with income tax. Same with Medicare.

By dgingeri on 2/8/2011 5:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
I got a $2500 credit for going back to college, and it was SS and medicare together. 15% of taxable income minus $2500 for the income tax and a straight 7.65% without deductions comes out that way. :)

By eggman on 2/8/2011 2:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
What do propose as a solution?

By dgingeri on 2/8/2011 6:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
For taxation? I haven't put much thought into it except to think it is too complicated and too many back door taxes you don't see coming.

My biggest wish would be for congress to be more straightforward and honest in taxation. Cut out all the little various tax BS and keep it to one tax system. Each tax system has its own overhead, and having a bunch of little taxes like we have today is far, far more overhead than a couple big taxes.

However, congress wants to hide their tax increases so they can keep getting elected, so they spread them out all over the place. This takes more people to keep track of them, and that costs more money to keep those people around. Simplifying the tax system would remove loopholes and make it easier on everyone. We'd reduce government spending and by extension reduce our own tax burden.

I'm good at thinking up solutions, but few people actually do anything with them.

By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 6:26:47 PM , Rating: 2
Fair tax. So everyone pays taxes. And the poor don't get taxed on gas or food.

By CowKing on 2/8/2011 7:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
I never thought I'd see you advocate a progressive tax system.
i.e. people with more money pay more than people with less.

By FITCamaro on 2/9/2011 10:31:56 AM , Rating: 2
A fair tax isn't a progressive tax system. It is a set rate that EVERYONE pays. Progressive means that the more you make, the higher the tax rate you pay.

Under a fair tax system, just because I make more, doesn't mean I pay more in taxes. If I make a million dollars a year but only buy food, gas, some clothes, and thats about it, I'll still pay less taxes than the guy who does all that plus goes and buys new rims for his car, a new flat screen, etc.

A fair tax is just that. Fair. And the best part is, no IRS and no income tax returns to worry about filing. Of course it'll never happen at the federal level because you can't redistribute wealth through a fair tax since there is no Earned Income Credit with one. Or a child tax credit, EV credit, Solar power tax credit, etc.

By eggman on 2/9/2011 4:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
I agree.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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