As Congress moves toward passage of a bill to extend the USA Patriot Act, scattered reports are surfacing in the US media of a massive expansion of domestic spying operations by the US military. The reports make clear that US citizens engaged in peaceful and legal political activity in opposition to the war in Iraq and aggressive military recruiting tactics are being monitored by military intelligence agencies and included in rapidly expanding secret data banks.
The White House is, according to a November 27 report in the Washington Post, considering a proposal by a presidential commission on intelligence established by President Bush that would empower a recently formed Pentagon intelligence agency to “carry out domestic criminal investigations and clandestine operations against potential threats inside the United States.” The panel asserted that this step could be taken by presidential order and Pentagon directive without congressional authorization.
The proposal would effectively scuttle the 1878 Posse Comitatus law that bars the military, with few exceptions, from carrying out domestic policing operations. It is only one link in a chain of already existing operations and pending measures that add up to a vast expansion of the domestic role of the military and the creation of a “Big Brother”-style apparatus for government spying and political repression.