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A Drone Enabling NSA Apologist: Why We Should Oppose Jeh Johnson's Nomination

The probable next Homeland Security chief does not have a good record on human rights.

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From its inception following the 9/11 attack, the agency has encouraged the proliferation of a national security state: surveillance cameras, armed personnel carriers, spy drones. It has awarded some $35 billion in Homeland Security grants for police departments to arm themselves with paraphernalia usually reserved for war zones. (For example, thanks to DHS, Fargo, North Dakota, a city with fewer than two homicides a year, got a new $256,643 armored truck; Montgomery County in Texas purchased a new $300,000 Vanguard ShadowHawk drone.)

Despite the overwhelming outrage by the public, Johnson has defended the NSA’s massive spying on Americans, asserting that when you make a phone call, you have no legitimate expectation of privacy when it comes to the collection of metadata—phone numbers, duration of calls, even GPS location. Johnson  said the NSA’s data collection was “probably the most regulated national security program we have.”

It should come as no surprise that Johnson is an outspoken advocate for the criminal prosecution of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden. He served as general counsel during the height of the  WikiLeaks scandal, calling Wikileaks disclosures “illegal and irresponsible actions,” and claiming that the leaking of classified materials aided America’s enemy.

At a 2011 Pentagon commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr., Johnson made the controversial statement that King would have supported the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack,”  he claimed. This is the same Dr. King who called the US was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, the same Dr. King who said that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

While no one should attempt to speak for the great civil rights leader, I wonder what Dr. King would have thought about Jeh Johnson’s nomination and the enormous Department of Homeland Security, whose $50 billion price tag is robbing funds from programs of social uplift.

“Spiritual doom” comes to mind.

If you think Jeh Johnson’s confirmation will threaten our security more than secure it,  send a message now to the Senators on the Committee on Homeland Security, and tell them to reject Johnson to head the DHS.  

 
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