1975 February 6

Government Spying “Almost Beyond Control,” Charge Two ACLU Lawyers


Two lawyers for the ACLU told a House of Representatives subcommittee on this day that government spying was “almost beyond control.” John Shattuck and Leon Friedman cited FBI wiretapping of Americans’ phones without warrants; FBI plans to “disrupt and confuse” the Black Panther Party (part of the notorious COINTELPRO program); and other abuses. The hearings paralleled the investigations by the new Senate Church Committee, created on January 27, 1975, to investigate abuses by the intelligence agencies. The House of Representatives would create the Pike Committee on February 19, 1975, to also investigate the intelligence agencies.

The government spying that was exposed in the 1970s, however, was dwarfed by the spying by the National Security Agency that was exposed by Edward Snowden in a series of news media stories based on documents he had stolen from the NSA and which began on June 5, 2013.

Learn more about government spying on Americans: https://www.aclu.org/time-rein-surveillance-state-0

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

Learn more: Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (2012)

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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