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tv   Lectures in History Federal Surveillance Civil Rights  CSPAN  August 25, 2018 1:10am-2:02am EDT

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>> the most important thing i think in terms of motivation for writing the book is born out of frustration, i talk about this in the book. after you write, my interests and my academic background are in economics. but if you think about the global economy today there are a whole host of very deeply structural long-term problems that the global economy has to contend with. and i imagine we'll get to them in a moment. but things like demographic shift. what the impact of technology will be for the jobless underclass. concerns around productivity and debt. debt overhang and income inequality. something that when i was doing my ph.d. was never discussed and now it's certainly one of the top three big issues on the policy agenda. these are all long-term structural problems and yet the people charged with overseeing the regulatory policy environment. short term in their frame.
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today we're going to talk about government surveillance and the central question i want to think about today is can intelligence agencies operate in a democratic society, and be successful in protecting the government and its citizens while also upholding the same citizens' rights. especially the right to dissent. in other words, our liberty and security compatible? no doubt there is a need for
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intelligence communities to operate. threats exist from foreign and domestic sources, the threats are real. they come from across the political spectrum. for over a century. in addition to taking action against real threats, bureaus and agencies within the united states government have surveilled those who have expressed what the cato institute describes as quote strong political views that run counterto the prevailing government political paradigm. this challenges the notion expressed by those who support a surveillance state of some sort. if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. i want to come back to that later on in our class discussion. maybe you add here to that view. maybe you are on the fence about it. maybe you firmly reject it. that's fine, we'll have an opportunity to discuss that later. the history of abuses in domestic surveillance in this country necessitates that
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discussion. because the same tools that can be used to protect citizens in a democratic society. again from legitimate threats can also be turned against the same citizens to less noble and nefarious reasons. >> you're going to look at the history of the united states, you would go back a century. to 1908. >> teddy roosevelt attorney general creates a special squad of investigators to work on behalf of the department of justice, it becomes known as the bureau of investigation, by the 1930s, the federal bureau of investigation. the fbi. the fbi's own history on their website they have a pretty long narrative description of their history. they link the creation of an fbi to the progressive movement that's active in that period of time. the progressive movement is sort of this belief that undergirds it is that the government must intervene to foster justice in an industrial society. the response to the sort of
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labor unrest, that we've talked about in previous classes and everything that went on, inspired that terrible kind of working conditions and so forth. so the progressive movement inspires things for example like the fda to insure that the food you're getting has labels on what you're eating is what you think you're eating. it will eventually lead to things like child labor laws. it is also then create this sort of nationwide law inforcement body. that is able to keep tabs on criminals throughout the country and just prior to this period of time. the fbi's history explains this creation, based on the need for law enforcement agency, a rise in violent crime and corruption, both in politics and in big business. all of that accompanying urbanization and industrialization at the turn of the century. as well as the national security concerns. particularly regarding an arcism. with the fbi in its own description describes it as a first modern-day terrorists, as
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well as threats of war-time subversion and espionage which we talked about the other week. in 1909, the fbi makes its first efforts to infiltrate political organizations, beginning with the socialist party of america. by the mid 1910s, they're investigating anti-enlistment groups. over the years the fbi will spy on a number of organizations. including the american civil liberties union. the american council of churches, the american jewish congress, the nationwide labor federation, the afl-cio, the national association for the advancement of colored people. the ethical society of philadelphia. the new orleans womens center. the american friends service committee, the quakers social justice organization. the women's peace movement, led by jane adams, pro labor anti-war folk singers like pete seeger, et cetera, et cetera. sometimes the people and organizations are investigated for decades.
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these are not violent revolutionary threats. they're political dissidents who oppose certain aspects of u.s. government policy. and perhaps even the particular form of government we have. they do so through specific means, extensively to protect areas of the constitution, though as we noted in our class on free speech not so much at the turn of the century when anarchists and leftist thought is strictly policed. political spying will begin right around 1908 and 1909 and run until about 1924, stop for about a decade and the impetus to stop it is known as as the first red scare. immediately after the first world war comes to an end. november 1918. the following year, 1919 sees a number of actions that will raise concerns about government surveillance the seattle general strike in early part of 1919. shuts down that city. tens of thousands of workers go on strike across industries.
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in the spring of 191, a bomb plot is broken up. then there's a wave of bombings in the summer, anarchist bombings targeting prominent people including the attorney general, alexander palmer. his house is down about r, right before you get to the kind of main circle there for before r hits massachusetts. i realized that was his house i had been driving by for years. the bureau of investigation creates this thing called the radical division to sort of deal with this resurgence of an arcism headed by a young agent named j. edgar hoover it compiles files on roughly 200,000 individuals. bureau uses those files, the files are used to round up several thousand suspected radicals in a series of raids in 1919 and 1920 that occurred at least 40 cities across the united states. some people rounded up are well-known prominent radicals, the anarchist emma goldman, a russian immigrant to the states. others are arrested because they
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appear foreign. or members of a labor union and so forth. many of those arrested were held incommunicado for months. and 249 resident aliens are put on a boat and deported to russia. at the end of 1919 because of their alleged anarchist beliefs. there's a tremendous political backlash against this in particular because a lot of these who are rounded up, they are not engaged in radical violent behavior. they instead are political dissidents. now maybe they hold radical views. but nonetheless, some of them are immigrants. immigrants from russia or southern or eastern europe. so the political backlash against this brings the fbi's political spying to a temporary halt. this is made especially palatable to those in power and may have been inclined to
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support this kind of round-up at first. in part because of new immigration quotas, that restrict immigrants from southern and central europe until they shut down immigration from east asia. which we'll talk about next week in the context of talking about japanese american internment. 1929 sees the end of a 10-year long intelligence-gathering program run by an organization known as the black chamber, because they have picked a more nefarious name. this is made up of people from the state department and army intelligence. essentially for ten years starting in 1919, and running until 1929, u.s. telegraph companies like western union had provided the black chamber with incoming and outgoing cable traffic. this is shut down by president hoover's incoming secretary of state, henry stemson, not to be confused with j. edgar hoover. he opposes spying on u.s.'s diplomatic allies.
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saying very famously, general, don't read each other's mail. there's also a supreme court case at the end of the '20s that dealing with wiretapping. and weighing whether or not tapping into someone's phone conversation, you have to imagine this is right early on in this period, where there are phones. does that violate the fourth amendment? the fourth amendment says, the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no wore shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized. william howard taft joins the supreme court. speaks for the court's decision to, basically rule against the
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notion that wiretapping violates the fourth amendment. the approval will last for 40 years. here's what he says. again this is in favor of ruling in favor of wiretaps, claiming they don't violate the fourth amendment. congress may of course protect the secrecy of telephone messages by making them when intercepted, inadmissible in evidence in federal criminal trials by direct legislation. if congress wants to rule on this, they can. and depart from the common law of evidence. the courts may not adopt such a policy by attributing a large and unusual meaning to the fourth amendment. the reasonable view is that one who installs in his who is a telephone instrument with connecting wires, intends to project his voice to those quite outside, and that the wires beyond his house in messages while passing over them are not within the protection of the fourth amendment. those who intercepted the projected voices were not within the house of either party to the
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conversation. neither the cases we have cited nor any of the federal decisions that brought to our attention hold the fourth amendment to have been violated against the defendant unless there has been an official search and seizure of a person or such a seizure of his papers or material he cans or an actual physical invasion of his house for the purpose of making a seizure. a standard which would forbid the reception of evidence if obtained by other than nice, ethical conduct by government officials would make society suffer and give criminals greater immunity than which has been known heretofore. >> if you are using a telephone machine it's connected to wires that go outside the house and you speak to someone outside your house, someone tapping into the wires, not going into your house, nor searching your belongings, that's outside your home and thus, does not fall under the auspices of the fourth amendment. this is how the court rules in
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1928. i want to hit again, a standard which would forbid the reception of evidence if obtained by other than nice, ethical conduct by government officials would make society suffer and give criminals greater immunity than has been known her so far. louis brandeis who sets the standard for free speech in his dissent, he dissented in this case as well. here's what he said in particular regarding taft's last comments, which are essentially right in saying that the ends justifies the means. here's what brandeis says, decency and liberty demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. in the government of laws, existence of the government will be imperilled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. in a government of laws, existence of the government will imperilled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously.
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our government is the potent. the omnipresent teacher for good or for ill. it teaches the whole people by its example. crime is contagious, if the government become as law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself. it invites anarchy. to declare that in the the administration of the criminal law, the end justifies the means, to declare that government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal, would bring terrible retribution, against this pernicious doctrine, this court should resolute resolutely send its face. political spying ends from the early '20s to 1936 when franklin roosevelt requests it be resu resumed. government surveillance does not necessarily target any one particular group. >> nor is it simply the
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purveyance. franklin roosevelt writes a liberal democrat request that political spying be reinitiated, it will be led by our man up here. j. edgar hoover appointed head of the bureau of investigation in 1924 at the age of 29. hoover had help put together the list that had been used in the first reds scare to round up a vast swath of people. he may have escaped the political fallout. the bureau had rebounded within that decade. hoover had tried to emphasize the bureau's role as a crime-fighting organization. particularly during the 1930s. >> the fbi john dillinger put a lot of work into recapturing. the bureau's reputation
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rebounds, fdr is concerned. concerned about soviet spies. and concerned about fascists. the mid 1930s, fascism is on the rise in europe. large enough that the american nazi party can hold a rally in madison square garden. immediately after adolf hitler invades poland. the fbi is authorized to investigate espionage, treason and sabotage. all federal crimes. hoover adds to the list, subversive activities. it is unclear how much franklin roosevelt. how much his attorney general, people high up in the government knew about the extent of what hoover would do. those no record of that particular meeting and what was said in it. roosevelt has bigger fish to fry in some sense. not knowing what's coming down the road. he's got an economic depression
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that continues to grind along. he'll have the war to deal with. even prior to the united states' entry. but there's no sense that fdr opposed hoover's intel work urt. hoover renews this, his renewal of investigative activities. is authorized outside the courts. he goes outside of congress to get legislative approval. congress is very suspicious of the bureau of investigation being created in the first place, concerned about creating a secret state police force. horn warned fdr that haters will twist the truth. so fdr the resumption of political spying. fdr supports hoover's suggestion which does not come to pass, to have every person in america fingerprinted. the newest technology at the moment. when the aclu complains about
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surveillance of pacifist groups, groups that don't want it go to war in europe. fdr responds in writing that he sees nothing wrong with investigating groups that spread quote false information and engage in false teachings. worth noting his healouse had b bombed, so that certainly colored his views of political disdeaths. and political opponents, he has the fbi investigate several senators, and several public figures, including charles lindbergh all of whom oppose any intervention in europe. hoover learns from this experience that he can curry favor in gaining leverage by digging into any president's enemies or perceived enemies. for example, he never blackmails kennedy brothers. but he does give robert kennedy, attorney general under his brother's presidency, updates on
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people he knows, the accusations against him, and family members. on the one hand right perhaps this is some helpful personal knowledge that robert kennedy can use however he sees fit. but it also insures that the kennedys know that hoover knows, knows everything. he knows everything that everybody is doing. so the kennedys have the inclination, they will know in the back of their mind that hoover has a pass on anything they've been doing. the restoration of spying takes place in the context and emerging national security state. when we're familiar with today. in the second world war ends, the cold war begins shortly thereafter. the house on unamerican activities committee, which investigates suspected subversives and the federal government's massive loyalty program. designed to snuff out anybody with offending political views,
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all of those rely on fbi reports in 1956, the fbi goes on the offensive. with the creation of co-intel pro, cp usa. a counterintelligence program specifically designed to target the communist party of the united states america. it's specifically counterintelligence rather than prosecutorial. it's a counterintelligence operation to destroy a political enemy of the government. for a couple of reasons. one, legal proceedings against communist party leaders have been very successful in sending a number of them to prison. the laws are favorable to doing that in in period of time. it had also exposed fbi informants. well-placed informths were then revealed as part of the court hearings, hoover is not keen on that. and in 1956/57. the court begins to roll back measures. laws that had been put in place
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in the '30s and '40s that had given free rein, anybody that's a member of a group that might espouse to overthrow the united states government in court rulings was interpreted loosely, used to put top leaders of the communist party of the united states in jail. top leaders who are operating for a foreign party, its top lead remembers controlled from moscow, party line is controlled from moscow. but this sort of roll-back in legal power, sort of the threat of exposing more informants, leads to this creation of a counterintelligence program. hoover's memo calls for actions to me gait the communist party's quote influence over the mass's ability to create controversy leading to confusion and disunity, penetration of specific channels in american life while public opinion is molded and espionage and sap taj potential. the last two are legal. espionage and sabotage.
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but influence over the masses, ability to create controversy, penetration of specific challenges of american life or public opinion is molded, you may find the idea that the communist party to be reprehensible. none of less, those are not specifically illegal things. the objective here is to destroy the communist party for its political act at this times. it destroys what remains of the communist party from 1956 to '71. there are 1,388 different co-intel actions. its membership 80,000 drops to maybe 1,000 active members in the '60s. now a large part of that is due to the legal measures used to get to the party. they also take a huge hit when in 1956 khrushchev comes to power in the soviet union reveals in fact all of the rumors about stalin's behavior
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are totally true. he was a tyrannical monster who murdered millions, who conducted show trials of his political enemies and people he thought might be his political enemies. right that is a huge effect in turning people away from the commune it party. nonetheless, hoover's obsession with the party keeps this going long past the point where cp usa is relevant. there's dissent in the ranks of the fbi because hoover will not let this go even though the party is well past the point where it poses any sort of conceivable threat to the united states. tactics for attacking cp usa include leaking smear tactics to the media. planting evidence to suggest that party leaders are informants, hope that someone else comes along and sees it and believes thee co-leader an fbi informant. creating a fake communist torsion attack the party from the marxist left.
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communists are at each other's throats, are you a marxist or a trotsky-ite? my personal favorite of these, operation hoodwink. false documents to provoke a fight between the communist party and the sicilian mafia. the fbi is well aware of how the cosa nostra perceives threats and how to deal with them. this is an agent with federal bureau of investigation to prepare the following anonymous letter. xeroxed copies to be mailed to the teamster local in the philadelphia area. dear union boss, i'm the loyal union man who wrote you around the end of january and i've got more news for you. you'll remember that i told you then that i heard from my commie
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brother-in-law, the leader this party had been in moscow, the among the instructions they came back with was to try to get rid of the hoodlums. i was talking with my brother-in-law and he asked me how things were going at my teamster local and i said okay. he told me he knew there were a lot of gangsters in my union. but he said things would be changing for the best shortly. he told me in february some of the leaders of the party were in hungary meeting party leaders and it came up again about how the party is going to clean up the gangster controlled unions in the united states. i told him he was all wet. but i didn't use those words, i'm afraid these comies mean business so watch out. thanks for the free use of a copy machine it get the word out about this. >> another is an anonymous fake letter that the fbi is going to send suggesting that the communist international will be targeting the sicilian mafia. which writes, involved in things like the teamsters union, this is a lie. here's what the fbi says, with
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respect to the above letter it's a fact that three leaders of the communist party usa were in budapest hungary to attend an international consulting meeting of communist and workers party. and account of their scheduled attendance. two of these three leaders have returned to the united states. however, the information in the letter that in hungary it came up again about how his party is going to clooe clean up the gangsters has no basis in fact. a few typing errors would be inserted into this letter. shouldn't the bureau approve this letter on commercial stationary updated and xeroxed copies of this letter were sent out this is all a plot, to create dissent. i mean the fbi knows what the sis sillian mafia does, they believe someone is coming after them. the effort here is to provoke the mafia to retaliate violently against members of the cpusa. >> not for lack of trying.
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cpusa is used to attack nonparty political opponents. unitarian ministers and members of the congregation circulated a petition against the house on unamerican activities committee. the city council campaign of a lawyer who defended people prosecuted under the smith act. leaders of the communist party and that lawyer runs for city council. the fbi attempts to smear him to sink his political campaign this is not surveillance of violent threats this is something different. the fbi will also then target the civil rights movement for african-american rights, in the years leading up it a formal co-intel pro. black liberation movement begun in 1967. the fbi began investigating the naacp for communist links as early as 1941. finds nothing, nonetheless attempts to get the naacp on to a list of subversive organizations in the '50s. martin luther king jr. and the southern christian leadership conference are investigative
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communist party links beginning in the late 1950s. here are the things that prompt that. martin luther king jr. gait a speech at a social justice leadership training school accused of being a communist training center. here's a billboard that floated around the south. martin luther king jr. at communist training school. it's not a communist training school. spoiler. this billboard accusation is rooted in an accurate history of the communist party supporting civil rights for african-americans, they did it to further the party's interest and we saw it as a great wedge issue. but this is right on this fear that will be spread that the civil rights movement is in fact a communist front being orchestrated by moscow to create social unrest in the united states. martin luther king jr. sent a thank you letter to an ex-city councilman because that person
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donated blood to king after he was stabbed in 1958. member of the socialist workers party offered to join the fdlc at the clerk's main office. i don't think he got the job. hoover tells congressmen, senators and the kennedys that lawyer and mlk adviser stanley levinson is a communist party member taking orders from moscow. he had left the party in the 1950s. his membership that hoover uses to make the accusation is all five years old if you're in intelligence you know that information over five years old is probably not very useful. if comes from two informants. that's it the fbi in fact had attempted to recruit levinson to be an informant. how much of a threat can this person be, the fbi thought they could turn him. more importantly there's actually no evidence at all that the communist party of the united states is influencing levinson or king. none less hoover insists for years that king is secretly a communist. here's the head of the co-intel pro operations, william sullivan
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shortly after the march on washington. and martin luther king jr.'s famous, "i have a dream speech." we must mark king now, if we have not before as the most dangerous negro for the future of this nation for the standpoint of communism, the negro and national security it may be unrealistic to limit our actions to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before congressional committees. robert kennedy approves wiretaps of king's home and the sclc offices in the fall of 1963 after the march on washington. and the fbi will tap king's hotel room. which kennedy may or may not know about. in 1964, the fbi goes after king by feeding tips to the press for his alleged communist ties and sexual proclivities. shortly after he is named the nobel prize winner in 1964, the fbi compile as composite tape from king's hotel rooms of extra
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marital sexual encounters. the idea here is they send one tape to make it sound as though king is having an extra marital affair with several women in his hotel room. it's a composite of several different incidents in which this happened. they send this tape to king anonymously with a letter, jump around a little. king, in view of your low-grade -- this is from the fbi. king, in view of your low-grade abnormal personal behavior i will not dignify your name with a mr. or a reverend or a doctor and your last name calls to mind only the type of king, such as king henry viii and his countless acts of adultery lower than that of a beast. king look into your heart you know you are a fleet kplooet fraud and liability to all of us negroes. white people in this country have enough frauds of their own, but i'm sure they don't have one at this time that's anywhere near your equal. you are no clergyman and you know it i repeat you are a
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colossal fraud and an evil vicious one at that. you couldn't believe in god and act as if you do. you don't believe that any personal moral principles, it's all there on the record. your sexual orgies, listen to yourself, you filthy abnormal acts they're on record. the american public, the church organizations that have been helping, protestant catholic and jus will know you for what you are. you are done. king, there is only one thing left for you to do, you know what it is. you have 34 days in which to do this exact number has been selected for a specific reason it has definite practical significance, you are done. there is but one way out for you, you better take it before your filthy abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation. the fbi encourages dr. martin luther king jr. to kill himself because he's such a threat to the nation in their view.
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king does not obviously kill himself. the fbi then offers to turn the tape over to the press. the press turns him down. imagine such an error. the fbi backs off in the face of a looming congressional investigation into electronic surveillance. timing of that works out in his favor i suppose. from 1965 to '67 lyndon johnson takes over for the assassinated john f. kennedy. clamps down on wiretapping, suggesting it should be outlawed. there are a couple of supreme court cases, burger versus new york and katz versus united states. in these cases the supreme court changed its tune, said wiretaps have to follow the same procedures for a warrant. there must be probable cause. the people initiating wiretap have to specify the crime they're investigating. specify the place to be searched. specify the conversations to be seized. in 1968 congress follows suit. sets specific standards for obtaining wiretaps.
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this will not stop co-intel pro- which will go on to target other political confrontation groups. including the black panther party. violence. in the american indian movement. which ends with a violent 1971 siege. the fbi will go after the new left and the klu klux klan, undermine both to some degree which we'll talk about in our leading discussions. then in 1975, watergate, revelations in "the new york times" of government spying prompt the creation of a special congressional committee led by senator frank church. a democrat from idaho to investigate the intelligence community. someone managed to break into an fbi headquarters somewhere. grab a whole bunch of documents, when they got back to their little hidy-hole they realize they had had all of this co-intel pro stuff which nobody had ever heard of and started leaking to to the press. it comes out in an era when the
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pentagon papers had been released. the government had known all along that the vietnam war was hopeless and had been lying to the public about it for years. there have been no major effort despite rumors that the fbi had data banks on u.s. citizens and used information on members of congress for blakemail on budgets and policies. there are oversight committees in each chamber's armed services and appropriations committee. they have clearly done nothing. the church committee discovers it's a laundry list of awful things. terms out the fbi had files on over one million americans, investigated 500,000 of them from 1960 to '74. people suspected of subversion that produced zero court convictions. the national security agency had investigated every cable sent or received by americans overseas from 1947 to 1975.
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the irs allowed tax information to be used by intelligence agencies for political purposes. lyndon johnson had ordered the c.i.a. to spy on anti-war protesters. believing that the soviets or chinese had to be behind it because he could not wrap his mind around the idea that americans students were on their own so deeply opposed to its policies, particularly when they threw so much weight behind civil rights and the great society programs it has to be the soviets, it has to be the kmin he's directing these students. this is a direct violation of the c.i.a.'s charter which prohibits it from conducting domestic intelligence operations. the name of the operation, operation chaos, like they're not even trying to hide it. operation chaos indices $300,000 names. with in-depth files in over 7,000 people no evidence of foreign direction founder in any of them. not entirely related to our class, but nonetheless, worth
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noting, church committee also reveals things like the c.i.a. conducted drug experiments on unsuspecting u.s. citizens. infiltrated organizations in the united states and participated in efforts to assassinate foreign political leaders. sometimes successfully, sometimes not this was a gun that was supposed to give someone a heart attack. so it looked like they had not been assassinated. co-intel pro, the revelation of these programs is shocking to congress because it's not spying, it's proactive counterintelligence. the historical lesson here, you want to draw one? anti-fascist and anti-communist pair know yaw of the early cold war built the momentum that led to the second red scare, the house on american activities committee investigations, right, later mccarthyism. all part of the same sort of spectrum. but it doesn't end when mccarthy public downfall and the rollback of some of these laws that
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allowed for the prosecution of communist party leaders, it carries through to the civil rights and anti-war movements of the '60s and the '70s. the end justifies the means in the government view. emblematic exchange between senator walter mondale and the deputy director of the nsa regarding the collection of cable intelligence. mondale, were you concerned about its legality? buffham, legality? >> mondale, whether it was legal. buffham, in what sense? whether that would have been a legal thing to do? mondale, yes. buffham, that particular aspect didn't enter into the discussion. mondale, trying to give him another chance, i was asking if you were concerned about whether that would be legal and proper. buffham, we didn't consider it at the time. no. all right. the threat seems so egregious. then the minds of these folks. just act to address the threat and deal with the legal consequences later, awesome. even though right, there turns out to be no evidence that in fact there was any plot by the
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soviets or the chinese to inspire anti-war protests, civil rights movement activities and so forth. yeah, right. >> i'm curious, i was curious when you were talking about the fbi counterfeiting letters to the mj what year was that? >> 1964 right after he received the nobel peace prize. >> thank you. >> the results of this of the church committee's investigations, on the legal side of it, this is probably the most important legacy of the establishment of a better degree of legislative checks on domestic and foreign intelligence agencies. it's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an improvement over what existed. the senate select committee on intelligence has made permanent in 1976, house creates its own in 1977. this is opposed by the white house, by the intelligence community. especially the hard-core
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anti-communist ones, they argue that this will cap the united states' ability to protect itself against all the threats that the co-intel pro operations never found. security objectives would have been met. in other words, they argue that security and liberty are compatible. in 1978, congress passes the foreign intelligence surveillance act, which creates a special court to secretly review wiretap requests against suspected foreign spies operating in the united states. this is meant to draw a line between foreign and domestic spying. monitor threats while nonetheless protecting the civil liberties of american citizens. there's also a ten-year term limit placed on the fbi director. hoover is director from 1924 until he dies in '71. no more 48-year czars. nonetheless, here we are because this doesn't entirely stop in the '80s, the fbi investigates the committee in solidarity with
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the people of el salvador, folks opposed to reagan's policies in south america. they spy on burning man. the terrorist attacks of september 2001 unsurprisingly are a huge impetus to reboot this kind of program, right? fear drives this. fear drives this feeling that you must act, regardless of the legal propriety of it, deal with the consequences later. the nsa after september 11th begins collecting the metadata of every phone call made in the united states from major carriers, which is just like, who did you call, how long did you call them, what time, what date. phone conversations, the actual transcripts, so long as someone is outside of the united states or involved in international terrorism as far as the fisa court is concerned. internet communications. now, ostensibly, you're only
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supposed to be allowed to do this so long as one person is outside the united states, but inevitably, of course, domestic communications are collected too because you can't sort out -- there's no automatic way to sort out foreign and domestic internet traffic. that's the world that we live in. it's all interconnected, and what do you do when apple's servers are in ireland, for example? the nsa stuff is first reported in 2005, 2006, confirmed years later with the revelation of the snowden dmtz. documents. there was a review of the broad data collection under george w. bush when revelations come out about the nsa's illegal wiretapping. department of justice determined it's illegal, and bush decided to re-up it anyway and only the threatens resignation of robert mueller and james comey keeps him from doing so but the fisa court goes ahead and approves it. now it's legal. you want to look at a sort of cultural legacy of this. the church committee comes at a
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time when people's suspicion of the government is through the roof. americans will never trust the government again. this comes at the same time as the pentagon papers and at the same time as watergate and now it turns out the cia has been spying on american citizens and attempting to murder foreigners and the fbi has been infiltrating and destroys political dissident groups, including peace activists. within the african-american community, specifically, you can certainly point to some things, the suspicion that the fbi set up king to be assassinated in memphis, not that the fbi did it but they knew an assassination attempt was coming and chose to do nothing. the suspicion that the cia intentionally introduced heroin and then crack into the black community to destroy it from within. whatever the evidence suggests, the reason there's so much suspicion, in part, is because the fbi did, in fact, infiltrate civil rights organizations and attempt to destroy them through nefarious, sometimes violent means. so of course that suspicion is there.
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and yet, how uncomfortable and suspicious are we when we carry tracking devices everywhere we go that always knows where you are. soon, this will be scanning your face. we want police to wear body cameras. those cameras can be used to film our private residences. taser, right? the company, taser -- it's like kleenex. it's actually a company. taser is developing software so that police body cameras will soon have facial recognition software, so you'll scan your face here and then police, as you walk down the street, see you, will know who you are. we use these. this tracks everywhere you've gone, every purchase you've made. do you use a metro card? that tracks everywhere you've gone in the city. fitness software that tracks how many steps you took, knows where all those steps were. now, on the one hand, some of this is -- some of this is necessary. you want the police to be able
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to effectively police. of course. it would be insane -- this is loaded very much -- this lecture is loaded very much in a direction that is, like, no surveillance, but of course there is necessity for it. violent actors do exist in the world. crimes very much take place. some of this is innocuous. it's good to track your health. i enjoy, personally, receiving coupons from my grocery store that's based on the purchases that i've made. it's a little weird to know that they know what bagels i like or what creamer i use. nonetheless, it's awesome because that's, then, cheaper. but someone is tracking all that stuff. that's sort of the flip side of this. owned, y on the other hand, yes, some of this is innocuous or necessary and is advantageous to law enforcement, keeps us safe. on the other hand, though, this requires faith in the person who's at the switch, and that person who's at the switch now may not be the person who's at the switch the next administration around or ten years down the road. i distinctly remember listening
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to bill moier's interview in 2007, 2008 when the nsa stuff was really in the media and being kicked around. and this conservative legal scholar who was deeply opposed to what the nsa had been doing made this point, and it was, if you support what the george bush administration is doing as a necessary action to keep us safe from the threat of terrorism, and again, i don't know how old you guys were, not very old, but i distinctly remember how frightening that period was. we just didn't quite know what was going on. i was a sophomore in college on september 11th, so i definitely remember that period. his argument was that, imagine, which then seemed the likely outcome, hillary clinton at the hands of that switch. right? the clintons were the great bug-a-boo of the right since the '90s when bill clinton was president. hillary clinton looked like she would be the presumptive nominee for the democratic party and that was his argument. you may support this now under george w. bush, but then imagine
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hillary clinton having it. and you can expand this kind of thinking to other subjects as well. you might support, for example, the obama administration's use of drones to target terrorists around the world or suspected terrorists around the world. you might think obama has good judgment. this prevents u.s. troops from having to go and risking their lives. it's quick and easy. okay. if you supported the obama administration and its use of that, i imagine you may not have voted for the current president, but he has the use of the same tool. and if you do support the current president, the next president that comes down the line, perhaps, right, a more left-leaning democratic candidate, who the heck knows what will happen, that person will have their hand on the switch. this is the thing to think about, right? it's easy in the moment to get sucked into the kind of the fear and the concerns that we have. they are not always unfounded. they are not always unreasonable. but keep in mind the long-term effects.
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once the jeanne geny ie is out box, it's tough to get it back in. government agencies don't surrender power. they just don't. that's not their nature. do you subscribe to the notion that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear?
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