F-Word: First They Spied on the Immigrants

To target activists in the 1970s, US intelligence agencies conducted so much illegal surveillance that they generated one of the biggest scandals in US history (COINTELPRO). 

Forty years on, we’re watching documentaries about the Vietnam War while our government conducts surveillance ops that put anything from that era to shame. The only thing Americans do less now than then is protest. Why is that?


The US Department of Homeland Security will be collecting more data on more people starting October 18th

Alongside everything else they track, the DHS will gather social media information - Twitter handles, Facebook accounts, Instagram pictures, search records, viewing history, calling history, you name it. DHS and its immigration unit ICE will only be targeting immigrants they say but they actually include everyone not born a citizen and anyone who interacts with them, so that scoops up me, and I'd bet you.

In the 70s, the FBI and CIA et al, said their targets were “domestic terrorists” and “foreign radicals”.

They actually went after civil rights leaders, feminists, journalists, and anyone who knew those people. Federal agents tracked and listened in on, and did their best to drive mad actress Jane Fonda columnist Art and Buchwald as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, and Muhammad.

Democrats in Congress held hearings, gathered evidence, and concluded that a long, shocking list of people’s privacy rights had been violated: among those the right to assemble, the right to speak, the right to associate, the right to communicate.

Today we do all those things online. So where's the hue and cry about privacy?

There's good reason to suspect the expanded net's as much about handing out contracts to corporate cronies and the military as protecting anyone from anything.

In 1975, enough people got angry that Congress demanded new tighter controls.

Today we’re barely hearing murmurs - and mostly about the privacy rights of so-called legal immigrants and citizens.

We should know better than to go down that dangerous "them not us" road.

If our predecessors had done more then, more quickly. We might not be here now.
But at least -- did I mention? -- It was a scandal.

What's at stake aren't your rights or mine. It's democracy.

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