Ron Paul Straight Talk: A Good Time To Talk To Iran

Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US president spoke with his Iranian counterpart. Their 15 minute telephone call was reported to open the door to further high-level discussions. This is a very important event.

I have been saying for years that we should just talk to the Iranians. After all, we talked to the Soviets when they actually had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us! The Iranians have none, according to our own intelligence services. I even suggested a few years ago that we should “offer friendship” to them. Unfortunately, so many so-called experts have a stake in keeping tensions high and pushing us to war. They did not want to hear what I was saying. It seems, though, this is beginning to change now with these recent events.

The phone call was one of the most important moves away from war and conflict in a long time. Taken with the Obama administration’s decision to hold off on bombing Syria, we should be encouraged.

It is also probably a good sign that this phone call has infuriated the neoconservatives at home, the pro-war faction in Israel, and the hard-liners in Iran. Now that a process of negotiation has begun, the chance of war has been significantly reduced. The US is very unlikely to bomb Iran while it is talking with them, and Israel is also unlikely to start a war while the US is at the negotiating table with the Iranian leadership.

But we should also remain very cautious. Obama’s war on Syria was only stopped because the American people finally stood up and said “enough.” The message was received loud and clear and it shocked the neocons pushing war. They were used to being in charge of foreign policy.

In a recent CNN poll, more than 75% of Americans favored negotiations with Iran. This is very good news, but those pushing for war will not give up that easily. Believe it or not, some Members of Congress have recently introduced legislation to authorize war on Iran — even as these first steps toward a peaceful resolution of our differences begin to bear fruit!

So no, they will not give up that easily. There are many in the president’s own Cabinet who do not want to see US/Iranian relations improve. Even the president himself seems unable to avoid provocative statements — such as his claim that the Iranians are only willing to talk because the sanctions have been so successful in bringing them to the table. That is a false and unnecessary boast, and if he continues in such a way he will destroy what progress has been made.

But we are in the majority now. There are more than three-quarters of us who do not want war on Iran. It is essential that we keep the pressure on the Administration to ignore the war demands in both political parties and among the so-called foreign policy experts. There will be much more war propaganda coming our way as the warmongers get more desperate. Americans must see this propaganda for what it is. They should educate themselves and become familiar with alternative news sources to gain the tools to counter the propaganda. We do have a better chance at peace, but this is no time to let down our guard!

For Sale: The 1979 Chevette Ron Paul Used To Combat Congressional Hypocrisy

This piece was originally published on September 30 by the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

In 1979, when I was headed to DC for my first full term in Congress, I bought a car to keep there. It was a 1979 Chevrolet Chevette. But this compact 4-door soon proved to be controversial. Tip O’Neill, the powerful House speaker, was advocating gasoline rationing for the rest of us, while he was chauffeured around in a Lincoln, all at taxpayer expense. And no waiting in gasoline lines for him, nor paying for it: he had his own pump in the House garage.

So my little car—which I paid for myself, of course—was parked next to the Tip behemoth for a cheeky photo. Well, you would have thought I was Ed Snowden. There was a huge blow-up. Tip even levied the ultimate punishment: he blocked pork-barrel funds for me, which I was not seeking anyway.

RonGreenpeacar_400x323

So this little car has some history to it. Yet it has only 69,000 miles on it. It was repainted after my youngest daughter used it at college, and has been garaged for the last 10 years. But it starts and runs, and is as cute as when Tip wanted to bomb it.

And you can own it, and aid the cause of peace and prosperity at the same time. The person who makes the highest pledge of a tax-deductible donation to the FREE Foundation by October 15, 2013, and redeems it, will own this historic little vehicle. The proceeds will be used to fund the work of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. That’s the one that outrages the neocons, so you know it is important.

Photo1589_400x300

We’ll have a nice turnover ceremony at the FREE office in Clute, Texas, that we’ll photograph, and I’ll also present you with a Congressional license plate that was actually used on the car.

So drive history forward, and make your pledge, mailing it to FREE, 837 W. Plantation, Clute, TX 77531 or email it to free1776@comcast.net or phone 979.265.3034

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Small Government Conservatives, Anti-War Liberals Should Join Forces To Combat Warfare And Welfare Spending

As I write this, it appears that the federal government is about to shut down because the House and Senate cannot agree on whether to add language defunding or delaying Obamacare to the “Continuing Resolution”. Despite all the hand-wringing heard in DC, a short-term government shut down (which doesn’t actually shut down the government) will not cause the country to collapse.

And the American people would benefit if Obamacare was defeated or even delayed.

Obamacare saddles the American health care system with new spending and mandates which will raise the price and lower the quality of health care. Denying funds to this program may give Congress time to replace this bill with free-market reforms that put patients and physicians back in charge of health care. Defunding the bill before it becomes implemented can spare the American people from falling under the worst effects of this law.

As heartened as we should be by the fight against Obamacare, we should be equally disheartened by the fact that so few in DC are talking about making real cuts in federal spending. Even fewer are talking about reductions in the most logical place to reduce spending: the military-industrial complex. The US military budget constitutes almost 50 percent of the total worldwide military spending. Yet to listen to some in Congress, one would think that America was one canceled multi-million dollar helicopter contract away from being left totally defenseless.

What makes this military spending impossible to justify is that is does not benefit the American people. Instead, by fomenting resentment and hatred among the world population, our costly interventionist foreign policy makes our people less safe. Thus, reducing spending on militarism would not only help balance the budget, but would enhance our security.

Yet both the House and the Senate continuing resolutions not only fail to reduce military spending, they actually authorize $20 billion more in military spending than authorized by the “sequestration” created by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Most of the supposedly “draconian” sequestration cuts are not even cuts; instead, they are “reductions in the planed rate of spending.” This is where Congress increases spending but by less than originally planned—and yet they claim to cut spending.

Under sequestration, military spending increases by 18 percent instead of by 20 percent over the next ten years. Yet some so-called conservatives are so opposed to these phony cuts in military spending that they would support increased taxes and increased welfare “military” spending. This “grand bargain” would benefit the DC political class and the special interests, but it would be a disaster for the American people.

Instead of grand bargains of increased spending and taxes, those of us who support limited government and free markets should form a coalition with antiwar liberals to reduce spending on both the military industrial complex and domestic welfare programs. Instead of raising taxes on “the rich” we should also work to reduce all corporate subsidies. This “grand bargain” would truly be a win-win for the American people.

Sadly, even if a congressional coalition to cut both warfare and welfare spending was formed, it would be unlikely to carry the day as long as the Federal Reserve is willing to enable Congress’s debt addiction by monetizing the debt. But this cannot last forever. At some point the Fed’s policies will result in hyper-inflation and an economic crisis that will force Congress to reduce spending. Hopefully, the growing number of Americans who are awaking to the dangers of our current path can convince Congress to reduce overseas militarism and begin an orderly drawdown of the welfare state before this crisis occurs.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Internet Sales Tax Could Crush Small Businesses

One unique aspect of my homeschool curriculum is that students can start and manage their own online business. Students will be responsible for deciding what products or services to offer, getting the business up and running, and marketing the business’s products. Students and their families will get to keep the profits made from the business. Hopefully, participants in this program will develop a business that can either provide them with a full-time career or a way to supplement their income.

Internet commerce is the most dynamic and rapidly growing sector of the American economy. Not surprisingly, the Internet is also relatively free of taxes and regulations, although many in Washington are working to change that. For example, earlier this year the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act, more accurately referred to as the national Internet sales tax act. This bill, which passed the Senate earlier this year, would require Internet businesses to collect sales tax for all 10,000 American jurisdictions that assess sales taxes. Internet business would thus be subject to audits from 46 states, six territories, and over 500 Native American tribal nations.

Proponents of the bill deny it will hurt small business because the bill only applies to Internet business that make over a million dollars in out-of-state revenue. However, many small Internet businesses with over a million dollars in out-of-state revenues operate on extremely thin profit margins, so even the slightest increase in expenses could put them out of businesses.

Some businesses may even try to avoid increasing their sales so as to not have to comply with the Internet sales tax. It is amazing that some of the same conservatives who rightly worry over Obamacare’s effects on job creation and economic growth want to impose new taxes on the most dynamic sector of the economy.

Proponents of the law claim that there is software that can automatically apply sales taxes. However, anyone who has ever dealt with business software knows that no program is foolproof. Any mistakes made by the software, or even errors in installing it, could result in a small business being subject to expensive and time-consuming audits.

Some say that it is a legitimate exercise of Congress’s Commerce Clause power to give state governments the authority to force out-of-state businesses to collect sales taxes. But if that were the case, why shouldn’t state governments be able to force you to pay sales taxes where you physically cross state lines to make a purchase? The Commerce Clause was intended to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across state lines, not to help states impose new burdens on out of state businesses.

The main proponents of this bill are large retailers and established Internet business. Big business can more easily afford to comply with a national Internet sales tax. In many cases, they are large enough that they already have a “physical presence” in most states and thus already have to collect state sales taxes. These businesses are seeking to manipulate the political process to disadvantage their existing and future small competitors. The Internet sales tax is a bad idea for consumers, small Internet business, and perhaps most importantly, the next generation of online entrepreneurs.

For more information about the small business program well as all other aspects of the Homeschool curriculum please go here. And to purchase a copy of my new book, The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System please go here.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: The American Public Is Tired Of Warmongers

Will the history books record these past couple of weeks as the point when the tide finally turned against our interventionist foreign policy?

We began September with the Obama Administration on the verge of launching Tomahawk missiles at Syria. The missiles were needed, the Administration claimed, to punish the Syrian government for using poison gas on its own people. There were reports that in addition to missiles, the Administration was planning airstrikes and possibly even more military action against Syria. The talks of a punishing “shot across the bow” to send a message to the Syrian government also escalated, as some discussed the need to degrade the Syrian military to help change the regime. They refused to rule out a U.S. ground invasion of Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry even invoked an old bogeymen that had worked so many times before. Assad was another Hitler, we were told, and failure to attack would equate to another Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement.

The Administration released its evidence to back up the claim that the Syrian government was behind the gassing, and the President asked Congress to authorize him to use force against Syria. Polls showed that the American people had very little interest in getting involved in another war in the Middle East, and as the Administration presented no solid evidence for its claim, public support eroded further. The media, as usual, was pushing war propaganda.

Then something incredible happened. It started in the British parliament, with a vote against participating in a U.S.-led attack on Syria. The UK had always reliably backed the U.S. when it came to war overseas, and the vote was a shock. Though the House and Senate leadership lined up behind the President’s decision to attack Syria, the people did not. Support among the rank and file members of the Senate and House began to evaporate, as thousands of Americans contacted their Representatives to express outrage over the President’s plan. The vote looked to be lost in the House and uncertain in the Senate. Then even Senators began to feel the anger of the American people, and it looked like a devastating and historic loss for the President was coming.

The Administration and its pro-war allies could not bear to lose a vote in Congress that would have likely shut the door completely on a U.S. attack, so they called off the vote. At least for now. It would have been far better to have had the President’s request for war authorization debated and voted down in the House and Senate, but even without a no vote it is clear that a major shift has taken place. A Russian proposal to secure and dismantle the Syrian government’s chemical weapons was inspired, it seems, by John Kerry’s accidental suggestion that such a move could avert a U.S. strike. Though the details have yet to be fully worked out, it seems the Russia plan, agreed to by the Syrian government, gives us hope that a U.S. attack will be avoided.

The American people have spoken out against war. Many more are now asking what I have been asking for quite some time: why is it always our business when there is civil strife somewhere overseas? Why do we always have to be the ones to solve the world’s problems? It is a sea change and I am very encouraged. We have had a great victory for the cause of peace and liberty and let’s hope we can further build on it.

Ron Paul: It’s Time For A Homeschooling Revolution

Former Representative Ron Paul has been a staunch opponent of government attempts to indoctrinate the Nation’s children with a pro-statist curriculum in public schools. Since retiring from Congress, Paul has taken on a number of new projects including the development of a pro-liberty home-school program (more information here) in which students will be enlightened by the ideas of great Austrian economists and encouraged to be self-made citizens as well as vocal defenders of liberty. The curriculum will be launched this month. Paul also recently authored a new book, titled “The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System”, laying out a plan to fix problems in the American education system. The September 9 edition of Paul’s “Texas Straight Talk”, in which Paul discusses his new educational offerings, is reprinted below with permission.

[pl_amazon_book_order src=”http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1455577170&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr”]Opposing infringement on parental control of education and promoting alternatives to government-run schools is a vital task for the liberty movement. When government usurps a parent’s right to control their child’s education, it is inevitable that the child will be taught the values of government officials, rather than of the parents. The result is an education system with a built-in bias toward statism. Over time, government-controlled education can erode the people’s knowledge of, and appreciation for, the benefits of a free society.

This is why throughout my Congressional career I fought against any legislation that infringed on a parent’s right to control their child’s education, especially any legislation that limited a parent’s right to homeschool. Many so-called education experts claim that parents who are not “government-certified” educators cannot provide their children with a quality education. However, the numerous studies showing that homeschooled children out-perform their publicly-educated peers in every academic category shows that most parents are more than capable of providing their children with an excellent education.

The Internet has made it easier than ever for parents to homeschool. Because of my interest in promoting alternatives to government-controlled education, this month I am launching my own homeschool curriculum. The Ron Paul Curriculum consists of a rigorous program of study in history, economics, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences.

Older students will also have the opportunity to gain experience creating and running their own on-line business. Frequent written assignments will ensure that students have the maximum opportunity to develop strong communication skills.

Students and parents are invited to participate in on-line interactive forums. The goal of the forums is to maximize participation so the student is not a passive recipient of information conveyed by the teachers. Instead, the students are encouraged to actively engage with their fellow students so the students can learn from each other as well as from the program’s instructors.

Of course, many of the offerings, particularly in history and economics, reflect my belief and interest in the freedom philosophy. However, unlike the pro-statist curriculum used in government-run schools, the curriculum does not place promoting an ideological agenda ahead of ensuring that students receive a quality education. The economic curriculum will cover all significant schools of economic thought, but will emphasize the free-market “Austrian” school.

Parents interested in providing their children with a quality education that incorporates knowledge of the principles of liberty will find this program a good investment. The curriculum also does not shy away from addressing the crucial role religion played in the development of western civilization. However, the materials are drafted in way that any Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist parent who wants their children to receive a top-notch education incorporating the history, philosophy, and economics of liberty, can feel comfortable using the curriculum.

I expected interest in my curriculum to grow over the years, as the young people who have recently become interested in the ideas of liberty marry and start their own families. These men and women will want to make sure their children’s education includes instruction in the ideas of liberty that was lacking in their government-provided-and-controlled education.

I am excited to be able to help provide the increasing number of parents interested in homeschooling with a quality curriculum that emphasizes the history and philosophy of liberty and free-market economics of the Austrian school.

Ron Paul: Will Congress Endorse Obama’s War Plans? Does it Matter?

In his weekly “Texas Straight Talk” column, former Representative Ron Paul discusses the looming prospect of war with Syria.

President Obama announced this weekend that he has decided to use military force against Syria and would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from its August break. Every Member ought to vote against this reckless and immoral use of the US military. But even if every single Member and Senator votes for another war, it will not make this terrible idea any better because some sort of nod is given to the Constitution along the way.  Besides, the president made it clear that Congressional authorization is superfluous, asserting falsely that he has the authority to act on his own with or without Congress. That Congress allows itself to be treated as window dressing by the imperial president is just astonishing.

The President on Saturday claimed that the alleged chemical attack in Syria on August 21 presented “a serious danger to our national security.” I disagree with the idea that every conflict, every dictator, and every insurgency everywhere in the world is somehow critical to our national security. That is the thinking of an empire, not a republic. It is the kind of thinking that this president shares with his predecessor and it is bankrupting us and destroying our liberties here at home.

According to recent media reports, the military does not have enough money to attack Syria and would have to go to Congress for a supplemental appropriation to carry out the strikes. It seems our empire is at the end of its financial rope. The limited strikes that the president has called for in Syria would cost the US in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote to Congress last month that just the training of Syrian rebels and “limited” missile and air strikes would cost “in the billions” of dollars. We should clearly understand what another war will do to the US economy, not to mention the effects of additional unknown costs such as a spike in fuel costs as oil skyrockets.

I agree that any chemical attack, particularly one that kills civilians, is horrible and horrendous. All deaths in war and violence are terrible and should be condemned. But why are a few hundred killed by chemical attack any worse or more deserving of US bombs than the 100,000 already killed in the conflict? Why do these few hundred allegedly killed by Assad count any more than the estimated 1,000 Christians in Syria killed by US allies on the other side? Why is it any worse to be killed by poison gas than to have your head chopped off by the US allied radical Islamists, as has happened to a number of Christian priests and bishops in Syria?

For that matter, why are the few hundred civilians killed in Syria by a chemical weapon any worse than the 2000-3000 who have been killed by Obama’s drone strikes in Pakistan? Does it really make a difference whether a civilian is killed by poison gas or by drone missile or dull knife?

In “The Sociology of Imperialism,” Joseph Schumpeter wrote of the Roman Empire’s suicidal interventionism:

“There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive an interest – why, then it was the national honour that had been insulted.”

Sadly, this sounds like a summary of Obama’s speech over the weekend. We are rapidly headed for the same collapse as the Roman Empire if we continue down the president’s war path. What we desperately need is an overwhelming Congressional rejection of the president’s war authorization. Even a favorable vote, however, cannot change the fact that this is a self-destructive and immoral policy.

Ron Paul: Middle Of The Road In Healthcare Leads To Socialism

This article by physician and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul was first published Monday at his website. Read Paul’s thoughts on why free-market health care isn’t the absurdity that liberal pundits make it out to be, and feel free to share the article with friends.

The ever-expanding role of government in healthcare provides an excellent example of Ludwig Von Mises’ warning that “The Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism.” Beginning in the 1940s, government policies distorted the health care market, causing prices to rise and denying many Americans access to quality care. Congress reacted to the problems caused by their prior interventions with new interventions, such as the HMO Act, ERISA, EMTLA, and various federal entitlement programs. Each new federal intervention not only failed to fix the problems it was supposedly created to solve, it created new problems, leading to calls for even more new federal interventions. This process culminated in 2010, when Congress passed Obamacare.

Contrary to the claims of some of its opponents, Obamacare is not socialized medicine. It is corporatized medicine. After all, the central feature of Obamacare is the mandate that all Americans buy health insurance from private health insurance companies. And, as with previous government interventions in the marketplace, Obamacare is not only failing to correct the problems caused by prior federal laws, it is creating new problems.

Consider the almost weekly stories about how Obamacare is causing health insurance premiums to rise, causing employees to lay off workers or reduce their workers’ hours, and causing doctors to leave the profession. Also, consider the problems the administration is already having administering the federal exchanges and other parts of the health care law.

I fully expect the implosion of Obamacare to continue, and the supporters of nationalized health care to use Obamacare’s failures to push for a Canadian-style “single payer” health care system. Unfortunately, some Obamacare opponents fail to see that the problem is not just Obamacare, but all government interference with health care. These Obamacare opponents advocate replacing Obamacare with “Obamacare lite.”  But economic law teaches us that “Obamacare lite” will be no more successful than Obamacare.

In order to win the battle for health freedom, those who oppose nationalized health care must have the courage to advocate for a complete free market in health care. Enhanced individual tax credits and enhanced use of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are just two polices that could help restore a free-market in health care by putting control over the health care dollar back in the hands of the people. A good place to start would be to repeal Obamacare’s restrictions on HSAs.

Long-term group insurance contracts could ensure that those with pre-existing conditions could obtain coverage. Under such a contract, individuals could pool resources to purchase a group policy that would cover any and all problems any member might develop over time. Businesses, churches, community organizations, and even fraternities and sororities could offer these types of contracts.

Negative outcomes insurance, where patients waive the right to sue for medical errors in exchange for guaranteed payouts to those harmed, could reduce the burden of malpractice litigation.

Other free-market health care reforms that could make the health care market more competitive and lower the cost of health care include allowing individuals to purchase insurance from across state lines, removing restrictions on physician-owned hospitals, and reducing the regulatory power of the Food and Drug Administration.

Some will say it is unrealistic to advocate replacing Obamacare with a pure free-market system, but in fact it is unrealistic to expect anything less than a true free-market to provide quality health care for Americans at all income levels. Continuing on the “middle of the road” in health care by mixing free-markets with government spending and regulations will only continue to take us on the road to socialized health care.

Ron Paul: Why Won’t They Tell Us the Truth About NSA Spying?

This article, written by Former Congressman Ron Paul, first appeared at the-free-foundation.org, the temporary home for his weekly column until his personal web page is up and running.

In 2001, the Patriot Act opened the door to US government monitoring of Americans without a warrant. It was unconstitutional, but most in Congress over my strong objection were so determined to do something after the attacks of 9/11 that they did not seem to give it too much thought. Civil liberties groups were concerned, and some of us in Congress warned about giving up our liberties even in the post-9/11 panic. But at the time most Americans did not seem too worried about the intrusion.

This complacency has suddenly shifted given recent revelations of the extent of government spying on Americans. Politicians and bureaucrats are faced with serious backlash from Americans outraged that their most personal communications are intercepted and stored. They had been told that only the terrorists would be monitored. In response to this anger, defenders of the program have time and again resorted to spreading lies and distortions. But these untruths are now being exposed very quickly.

In a Senate hearing this March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Senator Ron Wyden that the NSA did not collect phone records of millions of Americans. This was just three months before the revelations of an NSA leaker made it clear that Clapper was not telling the truth. Pressed on his false testimony before Congress, Clapper apologized for giving an “erroneous” answer but claimed it was just because he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.” Wow.

As the story broke in June of the extent of warrantless NSA spying against Americans, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers assured us that the project was a strictly limited and not invasive. He described it as a “lockbox with only phone numbers, no names, no addresses in it, we’ve used it sparingly, it is absolutely overseen by the legislature, the judicial branch and the executive branch, has lots of protections built in…”

But we soon discovered that also was not true either. We learned in another Guardian newspaper article last week that the top secret “X-Keyscore” program allows even low-level analysts to “search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”

The keys to Rogers’ “lockbox” seem to have been handed out to everyone but the janitors! As Chairman of the Committee that is supposed to be most in the loop on these matters, it seems either the Intelligence Community misled him about their programs or he misled the rest of us. It sure would be nice to know which one it is.

Likewise, Rep. Rogers and many other defenders of the NSA spying program promised us that this dragnet scooping up the personal electronic communications of millions of Americans had already stopped “dozens” of terrorist plots against the United States. In June, NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that the just-disclosed bulk collection of Americans’ phone and other electronic records had “foiled 50 terror plots.”

Opponents of the program were to be charged with being unconcerned with our security.

But none of it was true.

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard dramatic testimony from NSA deputy director John C. Inglis. According to the Guardian:

“The NSA has previously claimed that 54 terrorist plots had been disrupted ‘over the lifetime’ of the bulk phone records collection and the separate program collecting the internet habits and communications of people believed to be non-Americans. On Wednesday, Inglis said that at most one plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone.”

From dozens to “at most one”?

Supporters of these programs are now on the defensive, with several competing pieces of legislation in the House and Senate seeking to rein in an administration and intelligence apparatus that is clearly out of control. This is to be commended. What is even more important, though, is for more and more and more Americans to educate themselves about our precious liberties and to demand that their government abide by the Constitution. We do not have to accept being lied to – or spied on — by our government.