Early information arising from a US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee investigation into possible United States government spying on Donald Trump and people associated with him appears to show that information about individuals associated with Trump and his presidential transition was collected through surveillance by, and was widely distributed in, the US intelligence community.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday that “on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition” and that “details about US persons associated with the incoming administration – details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value – were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”
Nunez also stated in a press release Wednesday that he has “asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15 letter, and to provide a full account of” related surveillance activities.
Nunes’ discussion of the information being “incidentally collected” and then being widely distributed despite having little or no apparent foreign intelligence value highlights a reason to reject the common claim that people who have done nothing wrong have no reason to worry about mass surveillance. When you allow surveillance to run wild, then information that has nothing to do with the supposed purposes of the surveillance, such as protecting Americans from terrorist attacks, can be easily and frequently swept up and shared.
It is naïve to believe that none of the people who obtain the surveillance-derived information will then use it to their advantage, even if that results in harm to the people “incidentally” surveilled. It is also naïve to assume that surveillance efforts will not be adjusted here and there to make sure that more of the desired, but definable as “incidentally collected,” information is obtained and shared.
Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Massie is a member of the Ron Paul Institute.