1984 August 4

A Bizarre Warning: NSA Warns of “Peril” of Electronic Surveillance


In a development that seems bizarre and unbelievable in light of later developments, the National Security Agency (NSA) on this day warned of the “peril” of electronic surveillance made possible by advances in technology. The NSA was primarily concerned about threats to U.S. security from other countries, and called for the development of greater electronic security procedures. Possible Congressional hearings were discussed. Jerry Berman of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office found it “disturbing” that the proposal came from the “super-secret” NSA, which was the “least accountability of any agency in the United States government.”

Berman’s comments were highly prophetic. On June 5, 2013, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed massive and illegal spying by the NSA that exceeded all previous estimates.

Learn more about the NSA: James Bamford, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (2008)

Get the full story of the Snowden revelations: Luke Harding, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (2014)

Learn more about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC): http://epic.org/privacy/terrorism/fisa/fisc.html

Learn more: Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (2011)

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