Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan demanded records and a briefing from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Thursday over the agency’s proposed use of third-party firms to spy on Americans.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday DHS plans to contract with private companies for monitoring citizen activity on social media after intelligence failed to properly prepare law enforcement for the violence that ensued at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The effort, which remains under discussion and hasn’t received approval or funding,” the Journal reported, “would involve sifting through large flows of internet traffic to help identify online narratives that might provide leads on developing attacks, whether from home or abroad.”
Jordan, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday that the department’s use of outside firms to spy “would have serious consequences for the civil liberties of all Americans.”
“The Obama-Biden FBI spied on President Trump’s campaign in 2016, and now the Biden-Harris DHS is looking to use third-party contractors to circumvent the Constitution and spy on American citizens,” Jordan told The Federalist. “Every American, regardless of their political affiliation, should be weary of these types of attacks on our civil liberties.”
In addition to a staff-level briefing on the proposed initiative, Jordan has given the DHS secretary a Sept. 1 deadline to hand over documents related to the agency’s efforts to monitor American activity online including “warrantless surveillance.”
Calls to ramp up U.S. intelligence monitoring of Americans online escalated in the Jan. 6 aftermath as the left-wing activists who dominate the nation’s digital public square rapidly implemented a purge of conservative accounts. In April, even the U.S. Postal Service reportedly began to conduct surveillance of citizen social media activity under the Internet Covert Operations Program, known as iCOP, as first uncovered by Yahoo News.
According to a March bulletin obtained by Yahoo that circulated around DHS, “Analysts with with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021.”
The bulletin continued: “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”
The worldwide demonstrations, however, never came to fruition.