The Central Intelligence Agency is not supposed to spy on U.S. citizens. But according to recently released documents, the CIA is actively spying on U.S. citizens, without warrants or outside oversight. It’s all a byproduct of tracking information on terrorism suspects. In the process of listening-in on alleged bad guys, everyone else’s information gets hoovered-up, too:

What sorts of records the CIA has collected has not been declassified, but given the comparisons and the time frame, it’s easy to imagine that these are probably telephone and internet records. [U.S. Senators] Wyden and Heinrich are calling for the CIA to provide details on what kind of records were collected and what legal framework they used to justify the collection.

“What these documents demonstrate is that many of the same concerns that Americans have about their privacy and civil liberties also apply to how the CIA collects and handles information under executive order and outside the FISA law,” Wyden and Heinrich noted in a joint statement. “In particular, these documents reveal serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches of Americans, the same issue that has generated bipartisan concern in the FISA context.”

The CIA, of course, has an extremely long history of surveilling Americans for political purposes. The Church Committee was established in 1975 to investigate allegations of domestic surveillance by the CIA, FBI, and other federal agencies. Its findings were, in part, what led to the founding of the FISA Court in 1978 to make sure that our privacy rights as Americans weren’t violated by our own government.

War is the health of the state. What happens when a state starts an endless war – such as the one on global terrorism, or the drug war, or any other metaphorical “war” that mobilizes government power at the expense of liberty? The state thrives…and then sinks into authoritarianism.