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Newly declassified documents made public in the National Security Archive at George Washington University show how the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Americans who were opposed to the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This new documentation underscore the persistent, systemic abuses within the NSA on violating American citizens privacy.

In the summary of the declassified documents, "Disreputable if Not Outright Illegal": The National Security Agency versus Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Art Buchwald, Frank Church, et al., the archivists, Matthew Aid and William Burr, explain what type of Americans fell on secret NSA watch list programs in the past. They write:

The names of the NSA's targets are eye-popping. Civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King and Whitney Young were on the watch list, as were the boxer Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker, and veteran Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald. Also startling is that the NSA was tasked with monitoring the overseas telephone calls and cable traffic of two prominent members of Congress, Senators Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Howard Baker (R-Tennessee).
The NSA fought disclosure of this information for five years before being compelled by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) to declassify and release the information.

The archivists noted:

In its earlier release, the NSA declassified key elements of the story of its Vietnam War-era watch list and the MINARET program, but it held back details on the targets. ISCAP's decision to release the names of some of the prominent persons involved makes it even easier to understand why some NSA officials saw this operation as "disreputable if not outright illegal."


It was these concerns that led Attorney General Elliot Richardson to close down the program in the fall of 1973, as the Nixon administration was beginning to unravel.  MINARET and other abuse of power, such as NSA Operation SHAMROCK, contributed to the drive for Congressional intelligence oversight and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the mid-1970s.

The NSA watch list evolved into the MINARET program, which had its origin in efforts to watch "suspected threats to the president, for drug dealers, and then, according to the NSA history, for 'domestic terrorism.'"
President Johnson, angered by the criticism and prone to seeing conspiracies, wanted to know whether domestic anti-Vietnam War leaders and organizations had the support of hostile foreign powers ("Moscow gold").
In their coverage of the release, The Guardian reported that the NSA "went to great lengths to keep its activities... from public view. All reports generated for Minaret were printed on plain paper unadorned with the NSA logo or other identifying markings other than the stamp 'For Background Use Only'."

The New York Times Magazine reported in 1976 that Martin Luther King, Jr. was spied upon by the NSA, so the information that he was a target was not new. However, the archivists note this is the first time the U.S. government declassified this fact. King was placed on the NSA's watch list when it was created in 1967. King was placed on the watch list, "presumably" because he was an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam.

In addition to MLK, other Vietnam War critics were placed on the NSA watch list. Whitney Young, president of the Urban League, had good relations with the Johnson White House and served on the president's "civil rights cabinet", but his opposition in 1969 to the war likely made him a target.

During 1969, however, Young publicly turned against the Vietnam War by endorsing the October 15 Moratorium. The war, he argued, was "tragically diverting America's attention from its primary problem-the urban and racial crisis-at the very time that crisis is at [a] flash point." Whether that prompted some government official to add Young to the MINARET list remains to be seen.
Sen. Church, a moderate critic of the war, was another NSA target. Church saw his support of the Tonkin Gulf resolution as a mistake and argued the United States was doing "too much" as Johnson began to escalate the war.
Church had been one of Johnson's Senate allies but the President was angry with Church and other Senate critics and later suggested that they were under Moscow's influence because of their meetings with Soviet diplomats. In the fall of 1967, Johnson declared that "the major threat we have is from the doves" and ordered FBI security checks on "individuals who wrote letters and telegrams critical of a speech he had recently delivered." In that political climate, it is not surprising that some government officials eventually nominated Church for the watch list.
Sen. Church went on to head a select committee in the Senate that investigated abuses by American intelligence agencies in 1975-1976. Church said on "Meet the Press" in August 1975:
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, 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.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) were created following the recommendations from the committee. The PATRIOT Act of 2001 modified FISA to allow the government to have broad powers to spy upon targets including American citizens.

The archivists were baffled to why Sen. Howard Baker became an NSA target. Baker was an ardent backer of the war in Vietnam and his criticism of the the war was inefficient and lack of clear objectives. However, "he consistently defended the Nixon administration's Vietnam policy."

Muhammad Ali was spied upon by the NSA probably because of his efforts to avoid the draft and his public opposition to the Vietnam War. When Ali refused induction in the military, he was sentenced to be imprisoned for five years. Ali's conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971. How long he remained a NSA target is still unclear.

A couple of prominent newspaper columnists were the targets of NSA spying. Tom Wicker of The New York Times and Art Buchwald of the Washington Post were both targets. Wicker wrote columns "deeply critical" of the war and Buchwald's some humorist pieces "irritated someone enough" that he was placed on the watch list.

In their article in Foreign Policy, "Secret Cold War Documents Reveal NSA Spied on Senators", Aid and Burr wrote:

The NSA history does not say when these seven men were placed on the watch list -- or, more importantly, who decided to task the NSA to monitor their communications. But the simple fact that the NSA secretly intercepted the telephone calls and telegrams of these prominent Americans, including two U.S. senators, at the White House's behest is alarming in the extreme. It demonstrates just how easily the agency's vast surveillance powers have been abused in the past and can be abused even today.
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Comment Preferences

  •  All that belongs in the past. I'm sure they no (9+ / 0-)

    longer engage in illegal monitoring of citizens.


    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:32:34 PM PDT

  •  Church and MLK (6+ / 0-)

    Are names that are indeed particularly alarming to see.

    How anyone can still think this hasn't occurred more extensively, or that it couldn't still be happening, is beyond me.

    Thanks for the diary, Magnifico.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

    by DeadHead on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:38:27 PM PDT

  •  Again and again we find out (9+ / 0-)

    that these surveillance technologies are used on dissidents and it's always apologized away as being in the past. I don't understand how anyone can think that an organization which has a 50 year track record of spying on Americans and lying about it would suddenly stop.

    •  Bingo. What you wrote. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Magnifico, AoT, 420 forever, CroneWit

      With all due apologies to Magnifico, NONE of this is news -- we've known about it for decades. Maybe it has recently been declassified, but the facts have been there since the Church Committee, iirc. (And Frank Church being under surveillance is no coincidence.)

      Also under surveillance: Greenpeace. And Quakers.

      Who's currently under surveillance? Every-fucking-body.

      The NRA needs to be shut down.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:54:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed, and fifty years from now (6+ / 0-)

      when we get a new list of people who were being spied on...

      Look forward, not backward.

      Then again, fifty years is a long time, and a lot could happen either way, but the point is that it's completely naive to think it would stop, as you say.

      It's to the point where I've become so distrustful over all of this stuff, I won't believe it even if they DO get "reformed" and say "We're not doing it anymore, we promise!"

      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

      by DeadHead on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:05:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't worry. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DeadHead, annieli, AoT, CroneWit

        We're being spied upon right now, via the hoovering-up of all electronic data.

        Until/unless those centers of data spying are shut down, nothing you or I or anyone else does electronically is safe from Big Brother.

        Just sayin'.

        Oh, and NSA? I consider Edward Snowden to be a patriot. All y'all can figure out what makes you.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:13:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They have always done this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Spying, infiltrating, entrapment - they've been perfecting it for decades.

      But most Americans didn't care because they were only targeting "commies", civil rights rabblerousers and other miscellaneous undesirables .  So the majority turned a blind eye while they rolled out technology and precedent and legislation. But now that it's revealed that the government is basically spying on nearly everyone via nearly every venue, now there's an uproar.

      This is why on every Snowden and NSA thread I just roll my eyes.

      People really don't pay attention to history.  How does that go again?  "First they came for ..."  

  •  "hell no I won't go" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Magnifico, CroneWit

    It is important to read/see history ...but it really comes down to "you had to be there"...

    In the 1960's the person with the highest domestic profile that was shared worldwide was Ali. At a time when the most recognized person in the world was the heavy  weight boxing champion... Cassius Clay changed his name to Mohammad Ali..
    Then...when drafted..openly refused

    The reason...when he returned to boxing..there were cheers of
    "Ali" "Ali" "Ali"

    Ali did more to end the Viet Nam  War than anyone person or group

    ashes..ashes..we all fall down..

    •  With the exception of the consolidated resistance (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      of the Vietnamese people.  Credit where redit due.  Long live Ali!

      I preach the church without Christ, where the lame don't walk, the blind don't see and what's dead stays that way! Hazel Motes in "Wise Blood" (Flannery O'Connor)

      by chalatenango on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 03:03:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Were these just over seas communications or (0+ / 0-)

    domestic as well?

    When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead. It is difficult only for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.

    by thestructureguy on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:45:32 PM PDT

    •  Domestic communications (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is my understanding. From the FP article:

      ...these targets of the NSA's Minaret domestic surveillance operations...
      However, one theory the archivists have to why Sen. Baker was added to the watch list was:
      Perhaps some of [Baker's] overseas communications were picked up because during the 1960s and the early 1970s the NSA had a practice of reporting to Presidents Johnson and Nixon what "prominent Americans were saying and doing abroad."
      •  I couldn't get to the FP article but the link you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        provided in the diary seems to indicate this was only overseas communications.

        During the height of the Vietnam War protest movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the National Security Agency tapped the overseas communications of selected prominent Americans, most of whom were critics of the war, according to a recently declassified NSA history.

        When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead. It is difficult only for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.

        by thestructureguy on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 03:55:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They spied on Einstein too... (0+ / 0-)

    Sooo, I don't know what the criteria for making the 'honor list' is.Certainly being  avarage or Joe or  dumb Jane would make the! Makes you wish you were on the 'list.' Lol! They keep putting this 'security' meme out and we think they are interested in terrorists and such. Not at all. Brilliant and good people are the ones they are suspicious of. Conman? Nah. Corrupt Jack ass? Nah. Potential jihadi? Msybe...yawn...MLK, Muhammad Ali, Einstein? Red alert! We must put them under observation! Good and smart people are a threat to our national security....


    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 03:40:52 PM PDT

  •  ants (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adolf Berle wrote in his diary. (in the late 1950's) "If the scientists do what they have laid out for themselves, men will become manageable ants."
    pdf - diary
    Adolf A. Berle

    Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society by Jose M. R. Delgado

    Chapter 11 Physical Control of the Mind

    Dr. Mengele Nazi medical experimentation

    The Last Nazi Joseph Mengele by Gerald Astor

    Marionette Programming...trauma brainwashing, MK Ultra,  "Mind Kontrole"

    On the Trail of Josef Mengele
    Project MKUltra

    Mengele’s research served as a basis for the covert, illegal CIA human research program named MK-ULTRA.

    "Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity." ~ Marshall McCluhan

    by anyname on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 12:14:28 AM PDT

    •  1953 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      April 13, 1953: CIA OKs MK-ULTRA Mind-Control Tests

      This day in Tech History

      "Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity." ~ Marshall McCluhan

      by anyname on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 12:21:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  CIA cult (0+ / 0-)
        There exists in our world today a powerful and dangerous secret cult.

        So wrote Victor Marchetti, a former high-ranking C.I.A. official, in his book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence.

        This is the first book the U.S. Government ever went to court to censor before publication.

        In this book, Marchetti tells us that there is a "Cabal" that rules the world and that its holy men are the clandestine professionals of the Central Intelligence Agency.

        "This cult is patronized and protected by the highest level government officials in the world. It's membership is composed of those in the power centers of government, industry, commerce, finance, and labor. It manipulates individuals in areas of important public influence - including the academic world and the mass media.

        The Secret Cult is a global fraternity of a political aristocracy whose purpose is to further the political policies of persons or agencies unknown. It acts covertly and illegally."

        "Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity." ~ Marshall McCluhan

        by anyname on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 02:27:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  ANTZ the film (0+ / 0-)


      Antz is a 1998 American computer animated adventure comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. It features the voices of well-known actors such as Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, and Danny Glover as various members of an ant society. Some of the main characters share facial similarities with the actors who voice them.



      On February 9, 2009, DreamWorks entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures by which the films will be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner.

      The deal also includes co-funding via a loan by Disney to DreamWorks for production. Originally, the deal included access to slots in Disney's pay television agreement with Starz, but went to Showtime instead. This agreement was reported to have come after negotiations broke off with Universal Pictures just days earlier.

      However, this deal does not include Indian distribution rights, which is handled by Reliance. Also not included are sequels to live-action films released before the Paramount merger, or those released by Paramount themselves.

      " antz " - official trailer 1998


      Pixar - Walt Disney Company

      The Walt Disney Company bought Pixar in 2006 at a valuation of $7.4 billion
      Walt Disney Company:Disney has holdings in movies (Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, under Walt Disney Studios, includes Walt Disney Pictures,

      Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Caravan Pictures, Miramax Films); television (Capital Cities/ABC [owner of the ABC television network], Walt Disney Television, Touchstone Television, Buena Vista Television, ESPN, Lifetime, A&E Television networks) and cable networks with more than 100 million subscribers; radio (ABC Radio Network with over 3,400 affiliates and ownership of 26 stations in major cities); publishing (seven daily newspapers, Fairchild Publications [Women's Wear Daily], and the Diversified Publishing Group).

      The Walt Disney Company

      Timeline of The Walt Disney Company

      Mickey Mouse Copyright Act
      First Trade Walt Disney Co – - The first trade is usually set for the opening bell of the markets in New York.

      Disney first offered their company stock to the public on November 12, 1957, when the markets opened at 10:00 am EST.

      A avenue of insight into a company’s fortunes involves analyzing its leading lights. Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner born March 7, 1942 in Mt. Kisco, New York.

      Michael Eisner, when he took over as president in 1984, rebuilt the animation studios and made a series of new acclaimed films according to a tight annual schedule and strict rules that became known as “the Disney formula.”

      Eisner’s approach proved to be much more corporate than Walt’s. His strategy was to continue marketing the old movies while making new movies for both children and adults (Touchstone Pictures), along with strategic corporate takeovers such as the purchase of the TV network Capital Cities/ABC in 1995.

      It’s worthwhile indulging in Disney’s corporate nostalgia, because it has a direct bearing on technology. What Disney did next to protect Mickey Mouse is now echoing throughout the high-tech industry.

      Eisner knew that the old Disney films were still the company’s prime source of revenue, even with the success of such post-Walt films as The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. He also wanted to keep the old movies from slipping out of the company’s possession, especially after he had purchased ABC, which would serve as a broadcast platform for his products.

      To protect his marketing model, Eisner looked carefully at the European Union, where the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 1996 extended copyright protection from the author’s life, plus 50 years to life, plus 70. He and other Hollywood moguls worked on the premise that such copyright protection could also be applicable to popular culture, and lobbied Washington to extend the U.S. life-plus-50 limit by 20 years to cover movies and music.

      To accomplish this, Eisner and his Hollywood colleagues took a two-pronged attack. First, they drafted Sonny Bono, a junior Congressman whose career as a pop singer had plummeted after he and his wife Cher divorced. Bono drafted a bill proposing the 20-year extension and the House of Representatives, in a fit of distracted lawmaking ( Bill Clinton was being impeached in the Senate) rushed its passage by a voice vote in 1998.

      The second prong was to revamp the Copyright Act and toughen a piece of legislation that would halt the trade in digitized copyright material.

      The same distracted Congress ( Pres. Bill Clinton was being impeached in a  21 day Senate  trial) passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which essentially gave copyright holders a mighty hammer to smite those who ignored copyright laws. The DMCA, as it came to be known, was officially created to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Copyright Treaty of 1996.

      But it was a much more draconian piece of legislation than the WIPO called for, essentially allowing copyright holders to bypass the courts in getting warrants to charge violators.

      Critics called it “the Mickey Mouse Copyright Act” or the “Copyright Theft Act,” noting that its primary purpose was to protect Hollywood’s profits and not necessarily its creative products.

      And those profits aren’t puny. As a single example, Disney found itself the target of a surprise takeover bid by cable giant Comcast Corp., which in February, 2004, offered $49 billion (US) for Disney, later increasing it to $67 billion (US). The bid was abandoned in April, but it did serve to show just how much property Eisner was protecting.

      The impact of the two acts of Congress was that corporate interests could hang on to all sorts of creations that could be protected by copyright for nearly a century.

      For instance, no works copyrighted in the U.S. would enter the public domain until Jan. 1, 2019, when all works created in 1923 would become eligible.

      By then, of course, the studios — and the recording industry, which followed on Hollywood’s heels — would have figured out how to combat the new threats to their classic marketing models: digital technology and the Internet.

      Though Congress was convinced that by passing the two copyright bills it was protecting works of artistic merit and lasting cultural richness, other industries were beginning to realize that these lavishly pro-business laws could also be used to protect stuff that was on neither film nor paper, such as computer code, component design and architecture and a host of other intellectual properties.

      Serendipitously, in 1998 (the same year the copyright laws were passed) a U.S. court ruled, in a precedent-setting case, that business processes could also be considered intellectual property — and therefore could be patented.

      Patent registrations ballooned over the next few years, especially during the dot-com boom, when companies were creating entirely new models of doing business every day, and sought to protect their e-commerce inventions.

      "Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity." ~ Marshall McCluhan

      by anyname on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 08:38:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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