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2. The Federal Government Has Abused its Surveillance Powers Before
similar controversies in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal. In 1975, Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) put together a committee (which would eventually be known as the Church Committee) to investigate abuses of the law by intelligence agencies. Abuses included spying on leftist activists, opening and reading private mail, and using the IRS as a weapon. Sound familiar? There’s a reason why Baby Boomers have started comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon. The value of doing so has been lost to the ages; everything politically awful that happens in America is compared to Tricky Dick.While most Gen Xers were still very young and before any Millennials were born America went through
The defense that the current secret NSA/PRISM data collection plan can only target foreigners in foreign territory shouldn’t settle anything, even if it’s actually true, because that’s just a description of how the plan is currently being used, not how it might be used tomorrow or under the next presidential administration. And we have absolutely no way of knowing that the description of how the program operates is true anyway, because the oversight has been hidden from public view. We do know that a court ruling in 2011 determined that the U.S. government had engaged in unconstitutional behavior in its surveillance program, but the Department of Justice is trying to block Americans from seeing this court ruling and understanding what happened. We’re supposed to trust this oversight. We know they’ve broken the law once, but we don’t know what they did, what's stopping it from happening again, what harm was caused, and whether there was any sort of punishment or discipline.
Next: Not even the government can really control where data ends up.