1976 February 21

ACLU Launches Anti-Government Spying Campaign


The ACLU Board of Directors voted on this day to embark on a nationwide campaign to build support for legislation to curb spying by the intelligence agencies. Specific proposals included “whistle-blower” protection for federal employers who expose corruption or illegal activity, a law making it a crime to knowingly deceive Congress or the public, and a law making it a crime for federal employees below the Cabinet level to fail to report criminal conduct by government officials to a special prosecutor.

The ACLU campaign was in response to revelations by the Senate Church Committee (created on January 27, 1975) and the House Pike Committee (created on February 19, 1975) about violations of the rights of American citizens by the intelligence agencies.

Spying on Americans only worsened over the years. See the revelations of the NSA files released to the media that began on June 5, 2013.

For the ACLU’s fight against government spying today, go to: https://www.aclu.org/time-rein-surveillance-state-0

Learn more about the history of government spying in America: Athan Theoharis, Spying on Americans: Political Surveillance From Hoover to the Huston Plan (1978)

Read the reports of the Church Committee (1976): http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports.htm

Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU

Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org

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