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.
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
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
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.