The NSA is systematically monitoring the Internet posts and telephone conversations of U.S. military returning from Afghanistan, according to a civil-liberties attorney.
“The FBI and the Secret Service are showing up to request an interview to question specific Internet posts the veteran has placed on websites such as Facebook,” explained attorney John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute.
Whitehead said the agencies are looking for “anti-Obama views that can be interpreted to reflect psychological problems of sufficient seriousness to disqualify the veteran from ever owning a firearm.”
Whitehead told WND credible sources within the National Security Agency have told him the NSA is downloading 1 trillion communications on the Internet per month, including posts to various websites, emails, instant message communications and texting messages.
As WND reported last week, Whitehead and the Rutherford Institute in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., are representing Marine veteran Brandon Raub, 27, who was arrested by FBI and Secret Service agents for comments he made on Facebook expressing dissatisfaction with the present direction of the U.S. government.
Whitehead said his office has received numerous calls from U.S. military returning from Afghanistan with reports they are being visited by the FBI and Secret Service to ask questions about their Internet postings.
“We are advising veterans being visited by the FBI or the Secret Service to take the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions that might end up with a diagnosis of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, which goes into the veteran’s file and can be used in the future to prevent the veteran from purchasing a firearm,” he said.
Whitehead said that in most of the cases, there isn’t enough information to obtain a search warrant from a judge.
But if the veteran answers questions, he said, the Secret Service or the FBI might get a psychiatrist to visit with the vet for 10 or 15 minutes in the jail cell to acquire enough information to certify in front of a judge that the person should be placed in a civil commitment because of a psychological problem.
In February, Investors.com reported a complaint by Michael Connelly, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, that veterans have been getting letters from the Veterans Administration informing them they have been declared mentally incompetent.
The vet must provide evidence to the contrary within 60 days. If the vet desires a hearing, he or she must inform the Veterans Administration within 30 days.
According to the provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act any person receiving a determination of incompetency can be prevented from purchasing, receiving, owning, or transporting a firearm or ammunition.
Ronald S. Honberg, director of policy and legal affairs for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, testified before the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 10, 2007, that the term “adjudicated as a mental defective” is both stigmatizing and incompatible with modern terminology used in the diagnosis and treatment of people with a mental illness.
“No state official charged with carrying out the requirements of the Brady bill could possibly know what this means, as it is a term that has been obsolete for close to 40 years,” Honberg explained to Congress. “We have received emails and other communications in the past few weeks from people who are incredulous that such a term would still be used in federal law.”
Whitehead explained the problem is intensifying as an increasing percentage of the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan have become disillusioned with Obama administration policy toward the war.
“I’ve had veterans returning from Afghanistan tell me that they passed by the opium fields and it shocked me that the U.S. government was helping the Afghans plant that stuff,” Whitehead said.
“There’s a lot of corruption in the Afghanistan government, passing around bags of cash to top officials, and our troops are beginning to ask, ‘Why am I here?’
He said of these veterans “enlisted wanting to be a great soldier, but they are coming back disillusioned.”
“I’m getting a lot of reports that soldiers are getting pronounced PSTD and there’s nothing they can do about it,” he said. “Then they come home and the process continues. The NSA is targeting veterans, there’s no doubt about it.”
Whitehead said “the technology is driving the show now” at the NSA, with computer software identifying “problematic phrases” that target a person as a potential troublemaker.
He said that with the NSA is doing a trillion downloads a month, “the surveillance is pervasive.”
“Anything digital is subject to government investigation, typically without the person having any knowledge it is happening,” he said. “If you want to go on Google and be anti-war, you are going to end up in a file and you are going to be subject to further investigation.”
Whitehead warned that the telephone call interviewing him for this article was almost certainly being recorded by the NSA and that the contents would end up in a file both for him and for WND.
“The United States is already in a police state, such that the only question is how we are going to deal with it,” he stressed. “With Bush, the surveillance state was beginning. Under Obama, the NSA has blossomed to a whole new level unimaginable in an era only a few years ago before this computer technology existed.”
Whitehead told WND he was convinced Operation Vigilant Eagle was still in operation targeting military veterans as potentially dangerous “right-wing extremists,” even though the DHS, the Department of Defense and the FBI have dropped since 2009 any specific reference to the programs.
“When the drones get here, another Obama program, the drones are going to be awesome,” he warned.
“The drones will have scanning devices that can fly over your home and grab all the digital data in the place where you live. The drones are going to up the ante, there’s no doubt about it. The only question is whether this is still the United States of America. There’s nowhere to hide anymore.”