Surveillance is a word those who serve, or have served, in the military know well. The word “surveillance” often times goes with the word reconnaissance. I would say that the first known recon and surveillance mission was that of Joshua and the other dispatched by Moses across the Jordan River into Canaan, to spy upon Jericho. Their mission was aided by a woman named Rahab. She was spared for her graciousness.
But, the word surveillance can take on a more dangerous, nefarious meaning and intent, when it is used by the wrong people, and with the wrong objective. I remember as a young Army Lieutenant going through Checkpoint Charlie back in 1985 into East Berlin and having the East Germany Stasi — and, I am quite sure, other government intel agents — conduct surveillance upon us. Some of you old Cold War warriors may remember the SMLM (Soviet Military Liaison Mission) rascals who would conduct surveillance on our training exercises. We all know the end result of Stasi, and KGB, surveillance operations. The utter decimation of individual liberty, enabling the sustainment of a fascist, totalitarian state, and the imprisonment of dissidents. Something that continues today in places like Cuba and Venezuela.
Therefore, we get our ears perked up a bit when we hear about domestic surveillance in these United States of America. It is one thing to conduct surveillance for the protection of the general population, such as what our US Border Patrol agents do every day along our very porous southern border. Or what our US Coast Guard does out upon the sea lanes of infiltration. Or even what our local law enforcement agencies do daily in our communities and neighborhoods protection us against criminals, and corruption.
However, when surveillance becomes a tactic utilized by the government, well, it gets out attention…especially when implemented after a crisis, as a solution.
Consider post 9/11 when the Patriot Act was introduced, along with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts. What seemed innocuous enough has ended up being a nightmare, and improperly used by nefarious individuals for wrong purposes. As a member of Congress in 2011, the Patriot Act was up for a five-year reinstatement. I voted for a temporary three-month extension in order to study it better and to come up with an educated decision. I decided against voting for the extension of the Patriot Act, which upset the sitting Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI). The great thing was that I was able to articulate every reason for my “Nay” vote.
Look at what the FISA court has devolved into, while at the same time, due to arguments of political correctness, we ceased surveillance of potential hot spots if Islamic jihadism in America.
Therefore, when I hear our government using the word “surveillance” as a solution after a crisis, I do get concerned. And, it is happening again.
As reported by Business Insider:
“President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping stimulus bill that will pump emergency funding into the CDC to combat the coronavirus, including a system to gather data on how the virus is spreading.
The CDC’s new funding is part of an emergency stimulus package that provides $2 trillion in funding to boost government health programs and stabilize the American economy during the coronavirus crisis.
Of the funding allocated to the CDC, the stimulus sets aside at least $500 million for public health data surveillance and modernizing the analytics infrastructure. The CDC must report on the development of a “surveillance and data collection system” within the next 30 days. While it’s not clear what form that surveillance system will take, the federal government has reportedly expressed interest in aggregating data that can be gleaned from tech platforms and smartphone use to monitor movement patterns.
Other countries have already turned to high-tech surveillance systems in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. China rolled out a mandatory smartphone app that asks citizens questions about their level of exposure to people who have demonstrated symptoms, and automatically orders certain users to quarantine themselves. Singapore has issued a similar app that uses Bluetooth to detect people’s proximity to those who have been exposed to coronavirus and warns them to get tested if they come in close contact.
If launched in the US, a smartphone app for tracking people’s health would have to comply with privacy laws like HIPAA, which prevents the sharing of people’s health information between hospitals, the government, and third parties.”
Here we go again, another episode of “we have to pass the bill in order to find out what is in it”. Remember that famous line, well, the same person who said it then, is once again the Speaker of the House.
In times of fear, panic, paranoia, and hysteria, people are willing to sign up for anything…such as we did with the Patriot Act and FISA. At the time, as previously stated, these remedies seem totally innocuous, and after all, people have been driven into a panicked frenzy, they just wanna feel safe. Ah, let us not forget the sage wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Where does this go, and where does it end? Having the Center for Disease Control funded by our taxpayer dollars — actually money borrowed from China — to begin a “surveillance and data collection system?” Hmm, doesn’t that sound familiar, kinda like communications metadata? Who could ever forget the testimony of one Director of National Intelligence, an office created post 9/11, James Clapper, and his bald-faced lie before a Senate hearing on government collection of telephonic data — “not wittingly,” was his response to Oregon Senator Wyden — a lie.
Gotta tell y’all, I ain’t much into a bunch of apps on my phone. But, what better way to track whether or not you’re maintaining the proper six feet for social distancing than to have access to every single person’s real-time location, and movement. Yes, I know, if your phone is with ya, folks already can track ya.
However — and I am not a conspiracy theorist — I just do not like the idea of two words being combined in a single sentence, namely, “government surveillance.” Y’all remember that old Will Smith movie, “Enemy of the State?” Funny, it has been on the movie entertainment channels quite a bit recently, along with another movie, “Unlocked.” The plot to that 2017 movie seriously resembles where we are today.
My mission is simple: to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance upon any threat to your individual liberty, and freedom. I stand as the sentinel, alerting y’all, reporting back what I see, truthfully, as Joshua did to Moses. It is up to you to decide what you do with the intelligence, information, provided. But, I implore you, do not be dismissive, and end up as lab rats being tested and having someone enact surveillance upon you in order to get their desired results.
Always remember these words, combined, never end up well for free people: government authorized surveillance.
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During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
West is a commissioned officer in the Texas State Guard. He’s Fox News Contributor, former Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, and the forthcoming We Can Overcome.