Democrats and Republicans largely heaped praise upon Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after she announced she would resign her post later in the year, but a longtime constitutional attorney says there is not much to applaud – especially for anyone concerned about preserving freedom and limiting government intrusion in their lives.
"What the Department of Homeland Security became under Janet Napolitano is this monstrous surveillance and very intimidating group," said Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead, a constitutional attorney for the past 40 years and author of "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State."
"I think originally there were some good intentions with the Department of Homeland Security, but what happened under President Obama is that it accelerated rapidly," Whitehead told WND. "I criticized George Bush's policies. Under President Obama, we're zooming."
Whitehead said the Napolitano legacy of reducing freedom is evident across the board, starting in early 2009 when the department issued a report listing returning soldiers as one of the greatest threats to American security.
"Another program Napolitano set up is Operation Vigilant Eagle, which is a surveillance system done on all returning veterans from overseas, where they watch Facebook posts, text messages, emails of returning veterans to see if they're going to be disgruntled," Whitehead said. "There are quite a few disgruntled veterans. In fact, one that we helped just filed a major lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security."
"They arrived one day at his door, arrested him and actually put him in a mental institution for his Facebook posts criticizing the government. We got him out and then we sued the government," Whitehead said.
Another outrage, according to Whitehead, is the harassment of Americans living on or somewhat near our national borders with Mexico and Canada. He said law-abiding citizens have been forced to hand over their laptops while the government officials download the information. The Rutherford Institute has also received reports of Americans being removed from their cars and searched without probable cause.
These allegations, and criticism of drone use near the borders, come as Congress hotly debate immigration reform legislation. Whitehead said the problems he's talking about have nothing to do with border security.
"The people coming over from Mexico are not coming over at checkpoints. Incredibly stupid, and that's where a lot of emphasis has been placed," Whitehead said. "Obviously, they're not focused in the right direction. They put drones on the border but the drones obviously have not been very effective. In fact, what we found out about those drones now, on the Canadian border, turned the drones in. They're flying inland, photographing and watching what American citizens are doing and surveillance on American towns."
Whitehead said that sort of activity will only get more common and more intrusive until the American people stand up and refuse to accept what he considers a major infringement on our constitutional liberties.
"Drones are coming in 2015. They're going to be awesome. They'll have scanning devices, rubber bullets, sound cannons. They can look through the walls of your home," Whitehead said. "They're just going to bypass the Fourth Amendment, and they already are doing that."
A change at the top of DHS doesn't give Whitehead any hope that the government will rein in its activities. He says potential replacements, like New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, will likely be no different from Napolitano.