How would you feel if you were being spied on daily by intelligence agents? Well, for many celebrities during the Cold War, being spied on was a part of their everyday life. Espionage; an act that has been a part for our world since the peak of the Cold War. How would you feel if you were being spied on because you were a suspected communist. However, could the CIA still be spying on Americans today? CIA agents have been spying on Americans of many many years, but is this snooping an invasion of our privacy and our everyday lives? The spying done by the CIA and other secret agencies needs to be eliminated because it is an invasion of the lives of American people, destroys our civil liberties, and can be harmful to the one watched as he or she can be the victim of coercion, humiliation, and numerous threats.
During the peak of the Cold War, finding communists that were hiding among the rest of the Americans was the thing to do. Many politicians, like Joseph McCarthy, were keen on spotting the communists in the United States. COINTELPRO, short for Counterintelligence Program, was a program that was started by the FBI to disrupt the activities and the ideas of the communist party in the United States. From the years 1956 to 1971, COINTELPRO was used to investigate and keep tabs on radical political groups in the United States. In the 1960s, COINTELPRO was expanded to snoop in on other domestic groups, like the Klu Klux Klan. COINTELPRO specifically targeted americans which later lead to the dismemberment of COINTELPRO in 1971. Because of the constant spying on of american citizens, COINTELPRO was later criticized by congress and the American population for violating the first amendment of many americans. In 1967, the CIA was prohibited from spying on Americans because President Truman was worried about them engaging in political affairs or political abuse. However, the CIA continued to look into the lives of Americans. The CIA spied on 7,000 Americans through a business called “Operation Chaos” who were involved in the peace movement. After the 9/11 attacks, police forces started to promote information sharing among other intelligence and law enforcements agencies. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows United States intelligence agents to collect things like emails, which helps to prevent threats to the lives of Americans. But, some intelligence agencies have been collecting emails being sent to or by Americans, under the justification of possibly rooting out terrorist attacks on the american population. However, this spying has cast worries upon many Americans and policymakers about the invasion of privacy on the lives of americans.
The snooping that intelligence agencies take part in is an enormous invasion of our privacy. Whether it is on social media, or emails, or texts, the CIA and other intelligence agencies are continuously eavesdropping on the lives of Americans, but under what justification? Our right to privacy is outlined in our Fourth Amendment: “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against the unreasonable searches and seizure, shall not be violated, and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation”(US Constitution). Intelligence agencies, like the CIA, should not be able to keep tabs on every American, like an overbearing parent. How is the CIA’s or the NSA’s snooping any different than everyday peeping toms. Tracking emails from suspected terrorists is one thing, however, no agency or person should be watching over each and every person at some time in their life. This surveillance could be particularly very dangerous if the ‘watched’ are talking about controversial topics, presidential elections and more; this can lead to “people not to experiment with new controversial, deviant ideas”(Richards). This surveillance not only takes away our Fourth Amendment, but takes away our First Amendment, our freedom of speech. The First Amendment should help to protect minority beliefs and allow the American people to try new social and political ideas set to make the United States better. Surveillance on the American people can also be very dangerous for those being ‘watched’. Those films may end up in the wrong ends, eventually being used for coercion, humiliation, or even for threats.
The surveillance that intelligence agencies take part in is an enormous invasion of our privacy. Whether it is on social media, or emails, or texts, the CIA and other intelligence agencies are continuously snooping on the lives of Americans, but under what justification? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows United States intelligence agents to collect things like emails, which helps to prevent threats to the lives of Americans. But, some intelligence agencies have been collecting emails being sent to or by Americans. This worries many Americans and policymakers about the strong and threatening invasions of privacy. There are three laws that allow the United States government to surveil a certain individual: Title 3, ECPA, and FISA. Both Title 3 and ECPA(Electronic communications privacy act) make up the laws that help govern wiretaps for felons in the United States (Campbell). FISA, as mentioned above, governs the “eavesdropping on agents of foreign power”, most know as terrorists (Campbell). This spying not only worries Americans, but it also worries President Donald Trump. Two men, Jason Leopold and Jason Smathers, recently acquired a list of the many reasons why the NSA felt that surveillance on the American people is morally justifiable. Some points most important are: “These programs have helped us connect the dots. The events of September 11tth, 2001, occurred, in part, because of a failure on the part of our government to ‘“connect the dots.’” I can say the Program must continue…The president is committed to protecting the privacy rights of all US citizens” (Campbell). In one of his tweets, President Trump criticized the FISA Act and its snooping on emails.
All in all, because of the constant watch of Americans by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, the privacy of Americans is being violated and interrupted. This needs to be ended. The continuous surveillance over what we do, is an invasion of privacy. It’s an invasion of our everyday lives, and it needs to be stopped, before things get too out of hand. Save your privacy, keep what is meant to be yours, voice your thoughts, and contact your representative today.
Article by Megan Nowag & Video by Shaina Shah
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Richards, Neil M. “The Dangers of Surveillance.” Harvard Law Review, 20 May 2013, harvardlawreview.org/2013/05/the-dangers-of-surveillance/. Accessed 23 Feb. 2018.
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