A former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, Rebekah Koffler is a foreign born American. She was born in the late and little missed Soviet Union. But she sees ominous developments here.

Koffler: Born and raised in a totalitarian state, I am intimately familiar with government spying on ordinary citizens. Recent revelations about possible actions surrounding government surveillance by the NSA took me back 30 years ago to a place that no longer exists, my birth country, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – the USSR.

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In the course of daily life in the USSR, we assumed all our communications were monitored by the state. Back then, it was phone calls and snail mail. Speaking in code over the phone was common for ordinary Russians in order not to get in trouble with government authorities. We even had a special phrase, “This is not a phone conversation,” to end a discussion veering into dangerous territory.

Any criticisms of Soviet leaders, government control, or the socialist system could get you expelled from school or fired from work. Coming from that background, I was stunned to learn that the same thing could be happening here in the United States. This anti-American act has turned on its head my perception of America. Raised behind the Iron Curtain, I always viewed America as the land of freedom and justice—the exact opposite of socialism, an oppressive system of poverty and total government control.

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In America, out of all the benefits of capitalism, I always cherished freedom the most. Only someone who has experienced the absence of freedom can truly understand the meaning of the word. I remember, as a new immigrant, being shocked that Americans could visit another city and even decide to live there. You could even go to another country without needing permission.

Neighbors, classmates, and coworkers would not report me to the authorities for anything “wrong” I may have said. I could talk on the phone with anyone at all without having to worry that the government was listening. For 30 years, I soaked freedom in as much as I possibly could. I tried to teach my American-born children its meaning.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed disturbing developments. I find myself worrying about what I say and to whom I say it. In America, there are now “correct” opinions, those of the ruling class and polite society—just like the nomenklatura’s party line in the USSR—and what are called in Russian “incorrect” (nekorrektnoye) opinions. Americans with views contradicting liberals’ ideological orthodoxy get fired, “canceled” by activists, banned from speaking on college campuses, and deplatformed by “Big Brother” aka Big Tech.”

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The FBI’s recent tweet urging families to report their loved ones for signs of “violent extremism” and the Biden administration’s efforts to censor private speech on social media and phone texts through “fact-checking” are giving me flashbacks to the oppressive Soviet society I fled 30 years ago.

The NSA’s surveillance of President Trump’s campaign advisor, Carter Page—based on dishonest FBI applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—may very well be a harbinger of what’s to come. Spying on citizens is a hallmark of totalitarianism. That the feds did this to Page and possibly others with impunity is a sign that government apparatchiks feel the era of total government control in America is approaching. To prevent a USSR 2.0, we must act now to save freedom in America.

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This piece was written by David Kamioner on July 29, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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