The Biden administration may soon recruit an army of private snoops to conduct surveillance that would be illegal if done by federal agents. As part of its war on extremism, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may exploit a “legal work-around” to spy on and potentially entrap Americans who are “perpetuating the ‘narratives’ of concern,” CNN reported last week. But federal informant programs routinely degenerate into “dollars for collars” schemes that reward scoundrels for fabricating crimes that destroy the lives of innocent Americans. The DHS plan would “allow the department to circumvent [constitutional and legal] limits” on surveillance of private citizens and groups. Federal agencies are prohibited from targeting individuals solely for First Amendment-protected speech and activities. But federal hirelings would be under no such restraint. Private informants could create false identities that would be problematic if done by federal agents.
DHS will be ramping up a war against an enemy which the feds have never clearly or competently defined. According to a March report by Biden’s office of the Director of National Intelligence, “domestic violent extremists” include individuals who “take overt steps to violently resist or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. government in support of their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority.” Perhaps like setting up a private informant scheme to evade constitutional restrictions on warrantless surveillance?
One DHS official bewailed to CNN: “Domestic violent extremists are really adaptive and innovative. We see them not only moving to encrypted platforms, but obviously couching their language so they don’t trigger any kind of red flag on any platforms.” DHS officials have apparently decided that certain groups of people are guilty regardless of what they say (“couching their language”). The targets are likely to be simply people with a bad attitude towards Washington. That will include gun owners who distrust politicians who vow to seize guns.