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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/25/13

Liberal Icon Frank Church On The NSA

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Source: The Guardian

Almost 40 years ago, the Idaho Senator warned of the dangers of allowing the NSA to turn inward


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The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

In the mid-1970s, the US Senate formed the Select Intelligence Committee to investigate reports of the widespread domestic surveillance abuses that had emerged in the wake of the Nixon scandals. The Committee was chaired by four-term Idaho Democratic Sen. Frank Church who was, among other things, a former military intelligence officer and one of the Senate's earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, as well as a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Even among US Senators, virtually nothing was known at the time about the National Security Agency. The Beltway joke was that "NSA" stood for "no such agency." Upon completing his investigation, Church was so shocked to learn what he had discovered -- the massive and awesome spying capabilities constructed by the US government with no transparency or accountability -- that he issued the following warning, as reported by the New York Times, using language strikingly stark for such a mainstream US politician when speaking about his own government:

"'That 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 added that if a dictator ever took over, the NSA 'could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.'"

The conditional part of Church's warning -- "that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people" -- is precisely what is happening, one might even say: is what has already happened. That seems well worth considering.

Three other brief points:

(1) Numerous NSA defenders -- mostly Democrats -- amazingly continue to insist that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the NSA. How do they get themselves to ignore things like this and this?

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[Subscribe to Glenn Greenwald] Glenn Greenwald is a journalist,former constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times bestselling books on politics and law. His most recent book, "No Place to Hide," is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. His forthcoming book, to be published in April, 2021, is about Brazilian history and current politics, with a focus on his experience in reporting a series of expose's in 2019 and 2020 which exposed high-level corruption by powerful officials in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which subsequently attempted to prosecute him for that reporting.

Foreign Policy magazine named Greenwald one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. He was the debut winner, along with "Democracy Now's" Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work breaking the story of the abusive (more...)
 

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