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By:  Marilyn Assenheim

The government monitors us with drones. Everyone’s internet activity, telephone records and credit card transactions are scrutinized. But what about our other financial transactions and our automobiles’ movements? You can add them to the list.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a federal agency you may not be well acquainted with. That’s about to change. The CFPB was authorized by Congress, in 2011, caving to the Lyin’ King’s unscrupulous desire to control everyone and everything. And, with the GOP’s craven complicity, he’s succeeding admirably. The CFPB was created after passage of the heinous Dodd-Frank bill in 2010. Doubling down on that abomination, the CFPB was originally supposed to regulate Wall Street but it has morphed into an even more heinous hydra, even before The Lyin’ King’s nominated director, Richard Cordray, could be confirmed. As of Wednesday, the official CFPB website, (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/the-bureau/), has redefined its mission: “Congress established the CFPB to protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer financial laws.” Oh really? Existing law was insufficient?  We now learn that this body will:

  • Research consumer behavior

Read that item, carefully. At the very bottom of their web page, there is an offhanded reference to its original intention, Wall Street; an afterthought. You are the real target.

Yahoo News quotes Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY): “(the CFPB) is looking to create a ‘Google Earth’ of every financial transaction of every American … the government will be able to see every detail of your finances. Your permission – not needed … You can’t tell ’em to stay out of your records. It’s not possible. If your data is being collected, you do not have the option to opt out. Nor, does the CFPD need any kind of permission from you to gather your personal information.” That would be bank deposits, withdrawals, visits to the ATM, everything. Senator Enzi sounded miffed. But that didn’t prevent the Republicans in the Senate from caving, like wet toilet tissue, to Harry Reid’s demand that The Lyin’ King’s appointees be approved. Kudos, John McCain.

Tracking your money is not nearly enough control. As if drones weren’t enough to keep our entire population in line, Wednesday, MyFox.com confirmed that state and local police departments probably have photographs of every car, license plate number, automobile destinations and how long they’ve been there. Some jurisdictions keep such records for years. Whether or not recorded vehicles and their owners have ever done anything wrong is beside the point. According to a report from the ACLU released Wednesday: “… law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate.” The monitoring is conducted with surveillance equipment located on bridges, the sides of buildings and street poles. It has been going on since 2008. The Yonkers, NY Police Department claims that “These plate readers are not intended nor used to follow the movements of members of the public…” But the public is precisely who is being spied upon.  An ACLU report includes 26,000 pages of responses from 293 police organizations nationwide. It concludes that a very small percentage of criminal activity is hampered by such surveillance. States, such as Maine and Arkansas, don’t even have a limit on how long records can be kept. Lt. Bill Hedgepath, spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department, in Texas insists that “There’s no expectation of privacy” for a vehicle driving on a public road or parked in a public place…” Okay. But what about the drones capable of indiscriminately penetrating the walls of one’s home?  Isn’t there an “expectation of privacy” there?

MyFox.com quotes Catherine Crump, attorney for the ACLU: “There’s just a fundamental question of whether we’re going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine,” The ACLU has come late to this particular party; we already live in such a society. But it does raise a question: The Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973. They scrabbled around until they’d fabricated an inherent “right to privacy” out of thin air. Our right to privacy is being violated daily, repeatedly, right now. Isn’t that Unconstitutional? One or the other is clearly a Constitutional violation; is it the invasion of every American’s privacy? Or Roe v. Wade?

They can’t have it both ways.