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News Link • Surveillance

How the US institutionalized surveillance

•, by Kirsten Weld
The National Security Agency’s surveillance leviathan, funded by a black budget and presided over by a star-chamber court, suctions up almost inconceivable amounts of material from around the world, including your phone and computer. How did this begin, and where will it end?

History shows us that this is a story about empire. For more than a century, major innovations in U.S. intelligence-collection capacity have accompanied major expansions of U.S. influence on the world stage. In some cases, U.S. government agencies used distant theaters to test approaches they would later deploy on the home front. Elsewhere, they helped foreign police build internal surveillance systems. The trainers then returned to work in domestic law enforcement, employing the same practices locally. Either way, U.S. residents should worry. The information-management strategies the U.S. has used in projecting its power abroad have usually come home to roost.

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