What is domestic surveillance?

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 4-4-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 4-4-11. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3331

Question of the Week What is domestic surveillance?

In a 2003 report, the American Civil Liberties Union warned,

“In recent years – in no small part as the result of the failed “war on drugs” – Fourth Amendment principles have been steadily eroding. … The courts have allowed for increased surveillance and searches ….”

The Department of Defense defines “Electronic Surveillance” as,

“Acquisition of a nonpublic communication by electronic means without the consent of a person who is a party to an electronic communication.”

It calls “Domestic Activities” those

“that take place within the United States that do not involve a significant connection with a foreign power, organization, or person.”

and indicates, that

“Information may be collected about a United States person who is reasonably believed to be engaged in international narcotics activities.”

Illicit drugs are often smuggled from other countries.

The American Constitution Society worries that

“There has been a massive shift from surveillance and intelligence-gathering based on a factual predicate—such as specific information or a lead about a suspicious person or event—to surveillance and intelligence-gathering intended to obtain vast troves of data on millions of people.”

The American Civil Liberties Union confirms that

“Data companies collect information from courthouses and other public sources, as well as marketing data – sometimes including extremely personal information [concerning Americans]…”.

Citing Senator Sam Ervin the chief author of the 1974 Privacy Act,

“When the Government knows all of our secrets, we stand naked before official power. Stripped of our privacy, we lose our rights and privileges. The Bill of Rights then becomes just so many words.”

These facts and others like them can be found in the Domestic Surveillance section of the Interdiction of Drugs and Military Participation Chapters of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.