Libertarian: Free Peaceful Independent NAPsters, Coming Under SpyVeillance and Assault?

grarpamp grarpamp at
Sun Apr 25 16:42:47 PDT 2021

Jim Bovard: The Feds Are Coming For Libertarians
Authored by Jim Bovard via The Libertarian Institute,

Jim Bovard: The Feds Are Coming For Libertarians

On the day that Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, former CIA
chief John Brennan announced on television that federal intelligence
agencies "are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much
as they can about" various suspect groups, specifically mentioning

Libertarians are in the federal crosshairs. Six or seven years ago,
there was a lot of prattle about how "the libertarian moment has
arrived." I always knew that was hokum. Since then, there has been a
huge increase in hostility to libertarians in Washington DC and
elsewhere around the country.

Many libertarians assume they have nothing to fear because they are
not engaged in seeking to violently overthrow the government. But the
feds will be able to find many other pretexts to target peaceful
citizens with supposedly subversive ideas. Federal law already defines
"domestic terrorism" far more broadly than most people realize. As the
Oregonian recently noted, "Cases categorized as domestic terrorism
include allegations of…knowingly entering or remaining in any
restricted [government] building or grounds…civil disorders and making
threatening communications." FBI chief Christopher Wray told a Senate
Committee that the FBI has 2,000 ongoing domestic terrorism
investigations. Wray recognizes the terrorist peril as the ticket to a
bigger budget: "We need more agents; we need more analysts."

The Biden administration is itching for a broad new domestic terrorism
law to enable even more crackdowns. Libertarians need to recognize how
that definition of terrorism has already mushroomed. Capitol Police
acting chief Yogananda Pittman, testifying to Congress, described the
January 6 clash at the Capitol as "a terrorist attack by tens of
thousands of insurrectionists." Apparently, anyone who tromped from
Trump’s raging speech to the Capitol that day was a terrorist, or at
least an "insurrectionist" (“terrorist” spelled with more letters?).

After the clash at the Capitol on January 6, the de facto definition
of terrorism seems to be "anything that frightens politicians." Will
we find out too late that the new de facto definition of "domestic
terrorist" is "individuals who distrust the feds and own two guns and
more than 100 bullets"?

Another codeword for who the feds will target is "extremists." The
Washington Post in January portrayed "domestic extremists" as "a
disease that seems to have taken hold in the nation’s nervous system."
Last fall, FBI boss Wray told Congress that among the "underlying
drivers for domestic violent extremism" are "perceptions of government
or law enforcement overreach." Libertarians are practically defined by
their perception of government as overreaching. After the January 6
clash, Wray portrayed more busts as proof of FBI triumphs: "The more
of the arrests that you see, well, that’s obviously good news for
everybody that we’re arresting people who need to be arrested."

    Here we see the former CIA chief, John Brennan, saying that
libertarians are no different than "white supremacists and domestic
terrorists," as he calls for the need to bring foreign terror war
tactics onto US soil to squash them all.
    — Being Libertarian (@beinlibertarian) January 21, 2021

In the coming years, the feds may treat libertarians like Muslims were
treated after 9/11. Any new crackdown on terrorism will turn into a
numbers game in which justice and fair play don’t have a snowball’s
chance in hell. Between 2001 and 2006, federal prosecutors charged 10
times as many people in terrorism investigations as they convicted on
terrorism-related charges. President Bush declared in 2005 that
"federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against
more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been
convicted." But only 39 people were convicted on crimes tied to
terrorism or national security, a Washington Post analysis found.

Entrapment opened the floodgates to federal terrorism indictments.
Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s
Manufactured War on Terrorism, estimated that only about 1 percent of
the 500 people charged with international terrorism offenses in the
decade after 9/11 were bona fide threats. Thirty times as many were
induced by the FBI to behave in ways that prompted their arrest. In
2006, the FBI fabricated a terror scheme by the Liberty City Seven,
where an informant encouraged a bunch of dimwits in Florida to babble
about blowing up government buildings. That group was so
knuckle-headed that they asked the FBI informant for military uniforms
and wanted to conduct a parade.

Few Americans recognize how badly the legal playing field is tilted
against them. When FBI agents knock on their doors, many Americans
won’t hesitate to open up because they assume "those who have nothing
to hide have nothing to fear." But the FBI is exploiting a sweeping
law that criminalizes casual comments. Federal agents have the right
to lie to you and to put you in prison if you lie to them. Any citizen
who makes even a single-word ("no" or "yes") false utterance to a
federal agent faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

It gets worse. You don’t have to actually lie. FBI agents can
fabricate the sentences they use to hang you. Unlike most law
enforcement agencies, the FBI rarely videotapes interviews, thereby
permitting agents to create the narrative or "facts" which then can be
used to charge individuals with false statements. Instead of a
transcript, an FBI agent writes up a memo a day or two later asserting
what you said. FBI agents have been taught that subjects of FBI
investigations "have forfeited their right to the truth," which helps
explain the vast increase in federal entrapment operations.

If the FBI shows up at your door, they might have already accessed
every email and text message you sent in recent years. They may have
vacuumed all your social media activity—those private Facebook
messages you sent—HA! They may have also accessed all your credit card
and other financial data. And the FBI may have already interrogated
other people to squeeze out accusations against you that they can
throw in your face. Then they launch into a game of 20 questions—with
a federal indictment awaiting if they claim you answered untruthfully.

Politicians in Washington don’t see such abuses as a problem; instead,
they are a grand opportunity to smite people who don’t kowtow. It
wasn’t that long ago—in the final 15 years of J. Edgar Hoover’s
reign—that the FBI became America’s thought police. The FBI’s
COINTELPRO program conducted thousands of covert operations to incite
street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to portray
innocent people as government informants, to destroy marriages with
poison pen letters, and to cripple or destroy leftist, black, white
racist, and anti-war organizations. A 1976 Senate report warned, "The
American people need to be assured that never again will a federal
agency be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it
considers threats to the established order." But legal and
administrative restrictions on the FBI evaporated in the post 9/11
panic, resulting in pervasive abuses of Americans’ rights.

The FBI now operates with near-total impunity. The same is true of
many state and local police departments who may be hungering for new
federal subsidies to crackdown on the extremist peril.

How might this play out in the daily lives of people guilty of
entertaining libertarian ideas? Consider Duncan Lemp, a 21-year-old
Maryland man who was shot to death in a predawn raid in March 2021
after police smashed in his bedroom window and tossed flash bang
grenades into his bedroom. Lemp was active on Twitter and liked
several tweets by Libertarian presidential candidate John McAfee.
Lemp’s last tweet declared, "The Constitution is dead." Two months
later, so was Lemp.

The Montgomery County, Maryland government later admitted that Lemp
was targeted in part because was "anti-government" and "anti-police".
Plus, Lemp was outspoken about his support of the Second Amendment and
posted photos of himself with guns on Instagram. Police saw one such
photo and concluded that Lemp possessed a semi-automatic rifle that
was illegal to own in Maryland. After they killed him and searched the
Lemp home, they realized they had mis-identified the firearm—it was
legal. But police, prosecutors, and local politicians treated that
like a harmless paperwork error: nobody cared about the wrongful
killing of Duncan Lemp.

The police case against Lemp also came from accusations from one or
more confidential informants. Lemp trusted people who betrayed him to
the police, allegedly with false accusations according to Lemp family
lawyer, Rene Sandler. A month after Lemp was killed, activists held a
protest at Montgomery County Police headquarters. I attended that
event as a journalist (the ol’ press pass flopping around my neck) and
was chagrined to see how the event went down. Guys in Hawaii-style
"Boogaloo" shirts were using bullhorns to scream profanities at cops
and were pointlessly blocking a road. One of the most prominent
organizers told attendees to bring firearms to the event, despite
Maryland law prohibiting firearms at protests. He told people on
Facebook to show up with their guns anyhow and just walk around,
pretending not to be part of the demonstration. That guy was full of
bluster but never showed up for the protest himself. Almost 10% of the
30 protesters were arrested for firearms or other offenses. I later
heard that one of the guys suspected of being a police informant
against Lemp was at that rally pretending to demand justice for Lemp.

In the coming months and years, many libertarians could be indicted
not for violent acts against the government but for unwise or reckless
words uttered in proximity to government informants. If you don’t know
someone like the back of your hand, then you better be damn careful
what you say around them. And even if you know a person well, that
doesn’t oblige you to join them in a leap off a legal cliff. Simply
because someone spouts anti-government zeal doesn’t make them more
trustworthy than a congressman. Claire Wolfe, the author of 101 Things
to Do Until the Revolution, wrote an excellent guide to recognizing
government informants which she made available for free online.

Simple prudence can suffice to avoid many tripwires. If some new
acquaintance wants to provide you a pipe bomb to help "make a
statement," he probably isn’t a real friend. There was a saying among
antiwar activists in the 1960s and 1970s that the person who most
fervently advocates violence is likely the undercover government
agent. Activists should also recognize the likelihood that they could
be surveilled online or in person. Parler was supposed to be a secure
alternative to other online venues but millions of its messages were
leaked earlier this year.

The answer is not to shut up and sure as hell not to cease fighting
for your rights and liberties. Friends of freedom need to continue
valiantly and peacefully championing their ideas. At some point, more
Americans will finally recognize the folly of permitting politicians
and government agents to capture vast unchecked power over everyone
else. In the meantime, prudent libertarians will avoid writing
anything in an email that they don’t want to hear read out loud in
federal court.

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