Ron Paul’s 25-year-old warning about the FBI

As Congress investigated the alleged weaponization of the federal government, an old video trended.

As Rep. Thomas Massie and other members on the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held their first hearing this week, how the FBI might spy on Americans was certainly discussed.

Massie, in particular, raised concerns about the frequency of warrantless surveillance through the FBI’s use of its FISA’s Section 702 provision.

As the committee was happening and being discussed on Thursday and Friday, a familiar name began trending: Ron Paul. Many people were sharing the former congressman and presidential candidate’s warning, from over a quarter century ago, that the FBI had been spying on citizens its entire history.

“For most of our history we didn’t have those institutions,” Paul said in a 1998 interview. “The FBI came in during the First World War and interestingly enough, the one thing Woodrow Wilson did, he used the FBI to spy on American citizens and actually arrest them if they disagreed with his foreign policy about going to war in Europe.”

Probably the most famous case of this is the 1918 imprisonment of perennial Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs for his antiwar views and rhetoric.

“Isn’t it interesting how recently they used it in the Vietnam era?” Paul continued. “Democrats used it then. Republicans used the FBI to spy on 100 different groups in this country, including the churches who disagree with the policy in Central America.”

It is well documented that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program and other methods were used liberally to spy on U.S. citizens, some famous.

Paul finished, “It almost looks like the FBI was designed to spy on Americans who disagreed with policy, especially the foreign policy.”

Given what we already know about FBI snooping, and what we could learn in weeks to come, Ron Paul’s conclusion is a hard one to disagree with.

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Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the former politics editor for