TAPS Act: The Facade of Constitutionality Abandoned (Part 2 of 2)

Part Two: The Real TAPS Act Revealed

This is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One explained what the TAPS Act is.

Here, in Part Two, we will see what US Attorney General Barr revealed about the TAPS Act and the Federal government in general in his recent memorandum.

No sooner did the ink dry on Part One than did US Attorney General Barr make the following statement in an unpublicized memorandum with the subject, “Implementation of National Disruption and Early Engagement Programs to Counter the Threat of Mass Shootings”:

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I have directed the Department and the FBI to lead an effort to refine our ability to identify, assess and engage potential mass shooters before they strike.

“Identify, assess, and engage… before they strike” is the same idea of identifying individuals with the intention of carrying out an act of violence found in the TAPS Act. The Attorney General went on to say:

…newly developed tactics, based on the needs of our front-line operators, have expanded the “all-tools” approach adopted by our Joint Terrorist Task Forces to include the use of clinical threat assessment professionals, intervention teams and community groups…

Clinical threat assessment is the behavioral threat assessment concept of the TAPS Act, intervention teams are the agencies that will manage identified individuals, and community groups would include schools and unnamed civic groups (churches? YMCAs? – who knows, ‘civic groups’ is undefined). And by the way, the Joint Terrorist Task Forces work in conjunction with Fusion Centers.

And finally, the Attorney General indicated that training on these techniques, for the same agencies and entities that the TAPS Act would be directed towards, will begin in December.

To that end, in December 2019, we will be hosting a training conference at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC. to present proven models for engaging extremely challenging individuals, applying the lessons learned from our FBI subject matter experts, US Attorney’s Offices, private sector partners and Department components.

Through this memorandum, the Attorney General has revealed that the national strategy is already complete, and that the TAPS Act is a charade to attempt to legitimize a program that is being implemented whether the TAPS Act passes or not – in fact, it is being implemented before the TAPS act is even up for a vote. Even more than this, it reveals the true extent to which the government has departed from any semblance of complying with the Constitution – both in its contempt for the constraints placed on its power and authority and in its contempt for the rights of the People it at one time served.

The government is now claiming the right and authority to implement and fund programs outside of the umbrella of Congress in an apparent belief that there should be no bounds on the actions it can take ‘for the good of the people.’ As the TAPS Act plainly demonstrates, the government believes that the rights and liberty of individuals are expendable if, in the government’s view, the end is justified.

While human beings will oversee the process, there is no way they can sort through the immense volume of data involved. Artificial intelligence using machine learning techniques is very capable of predicting human behavior – any kind of behavior, not just violence. The key to machine learning is big data. The larger the dataset, the better the predictions. For predicting behavior, it is not just having a lot of information about one individual, it is necessary to also have lots of information on lots of individuals. Millions of them, meaning, all of us. The Attorney General’s statement in the memorandum that “When the public ‘says something’ to alert us to a potential threat, we must do something”, is pure misdirection.

The machinery of the TAPS Act is not going to be sitting idly around waiting for a member of the public to point to a person of interest and then investigate that one person. While that may certainly happen, the primary source of information is going to come from behavioral analytics run on the big data of millions of citizens. This is why it is so important to the government to expand the sources of information contributing to the Information Sharing Environment. Every aspect of our lives is reduced to datapoints that reveal who we are in totality.

If we allow the continued collection of our private data from our phones and other devices, our social networking accounts, places we shop, etc., artificial intelligence utilizing machine learning will literally know us better than we know ourselves because it can hold the whole of our lives in focus at one time and because it never forgets a single detail – neither of which humans are capable of even concerning the events of our own lives. While we tend to view ourselves optimistically with regard to how we would behave in the future, behavioral analytics would have no such illusions. It would predict our actual behavior much more objectively – and in some instances would predict that we were going to be violent when we ourselves did not yet have that intention. Sometimes it would be right, and sometimes it would be wrong. But because the prediction is for a future event, it cannot be determined if it is right or wrong, so that prediction would trigger varying degrees of the management of our lives by the government – without notification, without due process, without Fourth or Sixth Amendment protections.

If one were to believe that the single most important goal of life, to the exclusion of all else, was security, then it might be reasonable, or at least understandable, to treat each individual as an object without regard for their dignity, privacy, basic human rights, or for the rule of law in order to achieve a more perfect state of security. But an existence stripped of privacy and liberty, however secure, becomes sterile, meaningless, and lifeless. To protect life to a degree that strangles the joy from it defeats that which makes its protection worthwhile. Yet even at the most oppressive level of protection, all risk would still not be eliminated from our lives.

The sole purpose of government is to secure the rights and liberty of the People because it is these that allow us the free expression of our individual character. All other functions of government must be achieved in a manner that contributes to that purpose. It is not that we should not attempt to prevent murders, it is how we should attempt to go about it that is critically important to the preservation of liberty. Our government has lost sight of its purpose, has betrayed the trust of the People, and is now tearing asunder the very things we hold so dear, in the name of protecting us. In light of the fact that the risks of life can never be eliminated, it is before for us today to decide where the balance between risk and personal privacy and liberty lies.

To do this, we need to put that risk in perspective to see if it makes sense to give up our privacy and liberty to attempt to reduce that risk. So, let’s compare the risk of being killed in a mass murder with a risk we voluntarily accept everyday: driving a car. Most people feel that the risk of death associated with driving a car is so low that we never really think much about it. We jump in the car and go to work or go shopping without a second thought other than buckling our seatbelt. For us, the benefits of driving a car so far outweigh the risks that we are not willing to stop driving to avoid them. About forty thousand people per year are killed in cars – that’s four hundred times more people than the one hundred people killed annually in mass murders.

The risk of being a victim of mass murder is a fraction of one percent that of driving a car. If we are unconcerned about the risks of driving a car, the risk of mass murder is non-existent from a practical standpoint. We value our privacy and liberty more than we value driving cars because it is our freedom that allows us to drive our cars whenever and wherever we want and for whatever personal purpose we want. Is it not obvious from the examples of risk that we take in our daily lives that we would want the government to forego these methods of protecting us from the miniscule risk of death from mass murder rather than give up our privacy and liberty? Again, government does not need to stop fighting violence, it just needs to strictly use Constitutional methods, even if they are less effective, because the risks are a fraction of what we voluntarily accept every day.

So why would the government feel it was necessary to violate the Constitution to force us to surrender our privacy and liberty to address a risk that is virtually non-existent? Why would the government think that we value our privacy and liberty four hundred times less than we value driving a car, when, in fact, we value our privacy and liberty more? Obviously, they couldn’t think that and have any claim of intelligence. They are using the hype of the media to create an excuse to do it anyway. The media sensationalizes mass murder to make it appear to be a much bigger problem than it is to sell advertising. I don’t approve of that, but I understand it. But why is our government doing it?

The answer goes back to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and behavioral analytics. If not only the behavior of a population is understood, but also the behavior of the individuals in the population is understood, then the future behavior of the population and its individuals can be predicted. With enough data, these three relationships provide powerful insights into how to influence and control the population and its individuals without their knowledge. Both corporations and government are interested in doing this, but for different reasons: corporations to sell products and services, government to socially engineer the People.

But these programs can’t literally control us, can they? Well, here’s an example to consider. Let’s say you hold a certain political belief that the government wants to discourage. Its artificial intelligence network knows that there is a political rally in the planning stages that you would probably like to attend. In the months before the rally it feeds you negative stories, some real, some fake, about similar rallies where there were heart attacks, riots, fires, etc. When the rally is announced, you think to yourself that you would like to attend, but this type of rally is a bit risky so maybe you’ll just sit this one out. And you will believe that the decision was entirely of your own free will – you won’t have a clue otherwise. These techniques are being performed today. Targeted ads and targeted fake news are already a reality. They are targeted specifically to us based on our stolen private information. Our privacy is no light matter, and with the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence and deep fake video, the use of our stolen private data will render us wholly unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy or our own beliefs and those implanted in us.

Because markets are far more innovative and capable than government, business has developed the server farms of personal data and the analytical and predictive algorithms for turning that data into tools able to influence and control people. But rather than government stepping in to stop this gross invasion of privacy and protect the People – as is its mandate – government has instead partnered with business. In exchange for allowing business to profit from these activities, government is provided with the data and tools it desires for its purposes. It is no secret that government is in bed with Google, Facebook, Amazon, financial institutions, et al. This unholy partnership of corporations and government, sometimes called crony capitalism (though it has nothing much to do with capitalism), is as close to socialism as you can get without actually being socialist and presents a preview of life under socialism where the government becomes the corporation and, in the ultimate conflict of interest, is supposed to regulate itself. Whether under crony capitalism or socialism, without exception in history, the People are relegated to being pawns without privacy, rights, or liberty. This is what we are seeing take place now in our country.

Our government is no longer the Constitutional creation it once was; it has become a rogue entity that claims the right to set its own goals and the means by which to achieve them. The TAPS Act, national disruption and early engagement programs, Homeland Security and its warrantless searches, the wholesale collection of our private data by both corporations and government, etc. – all of it must be stopped if we are to free ourselves from the tyrants that are entrenched in our government who, with the stroke of a pen, are writing mere memorandums that they believe have the authority to override the Constitution. These people are not the face of authority, they are the face of tyranny and treason regardless of their intentions, good or otherwise.

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