A Half-Century of Spying on U.S. Citizens


Washington, D.C.—This morning’s revelation of spying on
Americans by the National Security Agency caused an
uproar in the Senate, with members demanding an
explanation from President Bush. The Senate then refused to
authorize the extension of certain sections of the USA
Patriot Act because the sections endangered civil liberties.

The New York Times on Friday said Bush authorized the NSA to
eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the U.S. in a
search for terrorist activity—without court-approved
warrants. Usually, warrants are usually required for domestic

But there are other examples of intelligence
agencies breaking the law to spy on Americans inside
the U.S.:

  • The Defense Department finally has agreed to allow
    officers involved in Able Danger, a secret Pentagon
    program set up to map the international al Qaeda
    network, to testify before Congress. Over half the
    members of the House had signed a letter demanding
    such testimony after the Pentagon refused to produce
    the officers involved for questioning. Able Danger
    claims to have tracked Mohammad Atta, the lead
    hijacker, as long ago as 1998. The project supposedly was blocked from telling the FBI what it had discovered by Defense Department lawyers who feared word would get out that the government was breaking the law by
    letting intelligence agencies spy inside the U.S.


  • Last week J.D. Cash, a reporter who has tracked the
    Oklahoma City bombing case in the McCurtain Daily
    Gazette, a small-town Oklahoma newspaper, reported the
    paper had obtained Secret Service documents revealing
    the use of a secret military spy satellite by federal
    investigators after the bombing of the Murrah
    Building. According to the Gazette, the documents show
    the satellite was tasked to gather intelligence at
    Elohim City, a racist religious community in eastern


  • In his testimony before the 9-11 Commission,
    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Defense Department could not protect
    Americans from attack within the country’s borders, but could only operate abroad. But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Defense Deparment
    through one or another of its intelligence agencies openly spied on citizens within the U.S, under COINTELPRO, among other programs.