Trump administration’s new expansive secret national security watchlist gives the US government unprecedented authority to snoop on millions of American citizens.
US President Donald Trump — who reportedly found himself subject to warrantless surveillance during the 2016 United States presidential election — is seeking to track and monitor over a million Americans without a warrant, even if there is no evidence they’re breaking the law or indulging in terrorism-related activities.
Trump’s new and expansive secret national security watchlist gives the US government authority to snoop on Americans and collect information even when there is no proof of a crime or intent to commit a crime – without the criminal justice requirements for due process, equal protection under the law, and freedom of association under the Constitution.
Watch: Trump creates new secret national security watchlist
According to an in-depth Newsweek investigation, political parties and information activists can be placed on the Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) watchlist — based on a Terrorist Screening Database created after the 9/11 attacks as a single repository of terrorist suspects — for their political actions and activism. Unnamed government officials say the watchlist will eventually track over a million Americans in more than a hundred cities across the United States. Newsweek writes:
“The criteria to be placed on the new watchlist demands that an individual be associated with “transnational” criminal organizations, including front organizations that are actually foreign government entities. Transnational criminal organizations include not just drug cartels, crime syndicates, and gangs, but also political groups such as nationalist parties and information activists. Individuals can be watchlisted when they are suspected of corruption, money laundering, computer hacking, stock market manipulation, health care fraud, even wildlife trafficking.”
Breach of American Citizens’ Civil Liberties and Privacy Rights?
Since he took office, Trump has destroyed the civil service and bent the government to his will.
While anti-Trump protesters face felony charges, federal immigration agents target activists who oppose them or help undocumented immigrants. In an unconstitutional “fishing expedition”, the Trump administration sought to unmask over 1.3 million political dissidents who visited an inauguration protest website (www.disruptj20.org) to coordinate protests and civil disobedience on 20 January 2017 (the day Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States).
Watch: Trump’s unconstitutional 2017 fishing expedition
According to the latest declassified ruling from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI systematically searched National Security Agency’s mass surveillance data in 2017 and 2018 in an inappropriate and potentially unconstitutional manner to investigate potential witnesses and informants, abusing the constitutional privacy rights of US citizens.
Furthermore, using the PRISM surveillance, the Trump administration spies on millions of Americans who use the internet to communicate with family, friends, and business associates overseas — without a warrant. The American Civil Liberties Union elaborates:
“PRISM is a warrantless wiretapping program that operates around the clock, vacuuming up emails, Facebook messages, Google chats, Skype calls, and the like. Government agents do not review all of the information in real-time — there’s simply too much of it. Instead, the communications are pooled together and stored in massive NSA, FBI, and CIA databases that can be searched through for years to come, using querying tools that allow the government to extract and examine huge amounts of private information.”
The TOC Watchlist Is Iniquitous In Nature
While Americans in the Terrorist Screening Database have alleged ties to terrorism, the TOC watchlist includes American citizens with no connections to terrorism. Also, the state can legally spy on Americans belonging to a certain political group or a proponent of information without first obtaining a warrant — in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Free Thought Project reports:
“What’s more, “Insider threats” make up yet another category of individuals who can be targeted under this madness. Leakers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, or corporate scientists and university professors researching sensitive areas like weapons or biotechnology who give information to reporters, may find themselves having their every move tracked by the state before being whisked away to some black site prison and never heard from again.”
TOC watchlist includes American citizens with no connections to terrorism.
Can the Government Legally Track Americans Without A Warrant?
While two separate laws, the Privacy Act of 1974 and the E-Government Act of 2002, require the federal government to notify the public of new and altered systems of data collection of Americans, Trump never announced the creation of the new TOC watchlist that subjects the Americans to government scrutiny.
“Compiling lists of national security enemies strikes me as what Hitler did in Germany in the 1930s or what Stalin did in Russia in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s,” says General Taylor, the former head of intelligence for the Department of Homeland Security, referring to American citizens. “That is nothing more than trying to take a sledgehammer when you need a stiletto.”
Such secret surveillance and police state tracking trample the rights of Americans, curtail the voices of dissent, and suppress activists who advocate and publish information that may be damning to the state. Retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jeff Danik warns:
“Once you’re on the watchlist, the government has the ability to collect tremendous amounts of information. This data is a bomb. You should have great respect for the damage that it can do.”