Rick Perlstein: The NSA Doppelganger

tags: Rick Perlstein, The Nation, National Security Agency, Church committee



Rick Perlstein is the author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, winner of the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history, and Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2008), a New York Times bestseller picked as one of the best nonfiction books of the year by over a dozen publications.

What goes around comes around.

The latest news in the National Security Agency spy scandal: that the NSA has been Hoovering up your emails, documents, and connection details directly from the servers of nine US Internet companies. And that, according to NBC News, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the United States ever since the passage of the Patriot Act. And they have been doing so with legal immunity. Barack Obama has been helping with that, since well before he was president; and now that he is, he does what presidents do, which is to aggrandize the power of their office by whatever means at their disposal.

We have been here before.

In the fall of 1975, when a Senate select committee chaired by Frank Church and a House committee chaired by Otis Pike were investigating abuses of power by the CIA and FBI, Congresswoman Bella Abzug, the loaded pistol from New York (she had introduced a resolution to impeach Richard Nixon on her first day in office in 1971) dared turned her own House Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights to a new subject: the National Security Agency, and two twin government surveillance projects she had learned about codenamed “SHAMROCK” and “MINARET.” They had monitored both the phone calls and telegrams of American citizens for decades....



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