Tyrants have always spied on their own people. Keith Laidler, a PhD Anthropologist, says that spying and surveillance are at least as old as civilization itself. And unfortunately it hasn’t been limited to just defense against external forces. Tyrants have long spied on their own people in order to maintain power and control and crush dissent.
The history of the U.S. government spying on the American population began in earnest with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1908 during a Congressional recess, initiated by US Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a great nephew of Napoleon, and based on practices developed in France a century earlier. The FBI was deeply engaged in political surveillance during WWI gathering information on anyone opposing the draft or entry into the war. As a direct result of the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act, many US citizens were prosecuted.
Political surveillance reached its peak during the Vietnam “police action’ under Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and, to a greater extend, Richard Nixon where there was a systematic effort by various agencies, including the Army and many state and local agencies, to gather information on those involved in anti-war protests. Nixon also used the NSA to make arrangements with major communication firms of that era such as RCA Global and Western Union to obtain copies of telegrams.
When the crap finally hit the fan, the Nixon Justice Department argued that the president had inherent authority to disregard the Fourth Amendment to protect the country against subversion, a claim which the Supreme Court rejected in 1972. No one is certain exactly how the information collected was used but efforts to protect civil liberties during that era eventually led to the destruction of many records.
Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, [Counter Intelligence Program] to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals the government targeted, or as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them. The program was halted in 1971 after activists broke into a small FBI office in Pennsylvania and released stolen documents about the program to the press. But Hoover wouldn’t be deterred. In 1972 he simply relabeled “dissidents” as “terrorists” so he could continue to spy on them.
Senator Frank Church, head of a congressional committee investigating COINTELPRO, warned that “NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.” He also said that if a dictator ever took over the country, the NSA “could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”
Truer words were never spoken! Government is now using its massive spy programs to track those who question government policies.
Todd Gitlin, chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia University, and a professor journalism and sociology noted that under the FOIA, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund unearthed documents showing that in 2011 and 2012, the DHS and other federal agencies were busy spying on a number of Occupy groups. It was while DHS was treating protestors against corporate and banking structure as potential criminals and terrorists, that they received the second of two Russian police warnings about extremist Islamist activities of Tamerian Tsamaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber, which information they failed to pass on to Boston police.
According to the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), a partnership of FBI, DHS and “private sector” organizations, demonstrations, and protests are now considered a “type of criminal activity.” Civil unrest has been redefined to run the gamut from small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.”
DHS has labeled returning veterans, Christians, Patriot groups, Conservatives, anyone who disagrees with government surveillance or the left’s socialist policies, and related organizations as “possible” domestic terrorists.
There is nothing new under the sun. Whatever government may say, mass surveillance has always been used to crush dissent and keep the peons in line. Of course today they don’t have to worry because the majority of Americans are more than willing to surrender their freedom and privacy to third parties through cell phones, smart televisions, google, ad nauseam.
Read: 5,000 Years of History Shows That Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent at this link.