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Trump Used The DEA To Spy On George Floyd Protesters: Report

The Trump administration used the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to conduct “covert surveillance” on protesters who marched in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The surveillance was done in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Albuquerque, according to emails obtained by CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The emails also reveal the full extent of the surveillance:

“The operations involved the use of undercover DEA agents to ‘infiltrate’ protests, social media monitoring and aerial surveillance by the DEA Air Wing.”

The surveillance was first authorized in May of 2020, and it greatly expanded the DEA’s law enforcement authority, raising questions about the legality of such a move by members of Congress who found out about it while performing their oversight duties:

“Representatives Jerry Nadler and Karen Bass urged the Justice Department to ‘immediately rescind’ the decision in a June 5 letter, calling it ‘unwarranted and antithetical to the American people’s right to peacefully assemble and to exercise their Constitutional rights without undue intrusion.'” 

Predator drones were also used to surveil crowds in American cities, the emails show. These are normally used to hunt down and kill terrorists in battle zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq:

“A June 9 letter from 35 congressional representatives to the FBI, DEA, CBP, and the National Guard decried the use of aircraft and predator drones to ‘surveil American citizens and collect vast amounts of personal information.’ Although the letter noted the memorandum authorizing the DEA to surveil protesters, it did not reflect knowledge that DEA specifically used aerial surveillance methods like those deployed in Chicago.”

Remember how Donald Trump repeatedly said he intended to make “America first”? Turns out he was using our taxpayer dollars to make us first in the world when it comes to spying on its own citizens for the crime of peacefully assembling, which just so happens to be a right the Constitution gives each and every one of us in this country.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do: 12 More States Will Consider Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

As I get older, I cannot help but notice how good ideas often seem to never get off the ground, but bad ideas proliferate. Such is the case with 12 states which have decided to join the 12 — including Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Florida — that have already mandated that welfare recipients undergo regular drug tests.

Drug testing bills have now been introduced in Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. This despite the fact that in Tennessee, only 37 of the 16,000 applicants tested positive for any kind of prohibited substance. That is a minuscule 0.23 percent.

As you might expect, proponents of the testing say 37 is a significant number. Republican State Representative Glen Casada proudly crowed:

“That’s 37 people who should not be receiving taxpayer subsidies, because they are not behaving as they are supposed toIf the taxpayers are going to support you there are certain criteria you need to adhere to. This is a good use of taxpayer money.”

Urinalysis tests are expensive. The average cost for a drug test ranges from $25 to $75, and since federal law does not allow the states to charge the welfare applicants, the state’s end up having to foot the bill for the program.

So far states with the drug testing mandate have only applied it to those receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits. But some states are considering testing food stamp recipients. Such a move would require a huge taxpayer subsidy of the drug testing expense, as some 46 million Americans currently receive food stamps.

Critics of the program say it is a waste of money and punishes those who are in need of help. Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee recently said:

You are requiring more than 16,000 people to be screened for drug use based on the assumption that people who receive public assistance are more likely to use illegal drugs. “There’s no evidence to indicate that’s true.”

No evidence, but that won’t stop proponents from attempting to rub people’s noses in the dirt at a time in their lives when they are already struggling to merely survive.

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org