One of the primary contentions of establishment Republicans and Democrats in defense of the National Security Agency’s massive data-collection program was that the program was not only free from abuse (something we know is not true), but that it’s ultimately useful in targeting real threats to the American people; maybe not yesterday, maybe not today, but perhaps some day in the future it will ensnare an entire sleeper sell of jihadists mid-phone call to Iran, giving an unsecured credit card number to their yellow-cake suppliers.

The data collection, you see, is done only on those whose backgrounds demand it. If you’ve done nothing wrong? Then why worry that your cell-phone data records are stored on a massive supercomputer in Utah, where they can be routinely downloaded and searched?

One thing they forgot to mention? The Obama administration, which has greatly expanded warrantless wiretapping, has a very interesting definition of who constitutes a threat. They haven’t been entirely forthcoming (or maybe they have, really) in who they focus on when it comes to things like “lone-wolf terrorist” or “threats to the very nature of our social fabric.” And that’s because, when they use the terms, they don’t really mean the homegrown groups of jihadists that Lindsey Graham or Dan Coats envisions, plotting to put a dirty bomb in a shopping mall or release anthrax into Congress’s air ducts.

At least according to the Department of Justice’s most recent statements, they mean you:

The Department of Justice is concentrating on “far-right” groups in a new study of social media usage aimed at combatting violent extremism.

The Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded Michigan State University $585,719 for the study, which was praised by Eric Holder, the former attorney general, earlier this year.

“There is currently limited knowledge of the role of technology and computer mediated communications (CMCs), such as Facebook and Twitter, in the dissemination of messages that promote extremist agendas and radicalize individuals to violence,” according to the NIJ grant. “The proposed study will address this gap through a series of qualitative and quantitative analyses of posts from various forms of CMC used by members of both the far-right and Islamic extremist movements.”

The study draws more upon right-wing forums than upon the corners of the web inhabited by Islamist extremists.

“We will collect posts made in four active forums used by members of the far-right and three from the Islamic Extremist community, as well as posts made in Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, YouTube, and Pastebin accounts used by members of each movement,” the grant said.

The good news is, the results will be analyzed and compiled into a report that will then be disseminated in a public webinar. So if you’re tweeting or posting on Facebook about the government today, perhaps one day, you can look forward to grabbing your few minutes of international fame in a DOJ missive on how you’re undermining the authority of the federal government.

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