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“Army Surveillance of Civilians” (1972) (Publisher: But they wouldn't still be doing this... rig


“Army Surveillance of Civilians: A Documentary Analysis” by the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate (1972). Posted online by The Memory Hole. (Thanks to Susan Maret, coeditor of Government Secrecy: Classic and Contemporary Readings.)

Click here to download the report [PDF | 9 meg | 104 pp]


Background info from the report’s preface:

“The following report by the Subcommittee staff analyzes certain computer print-outs and publications generated in the course of the Army’s domestic intelligence program.”

“The overwhelming majority of the reports pertain to the peaceful activites of nonviolent citizens lawfully exercising their constitutional rights of speech, press, religion, association, and petition.”

“These files confirm what we learned first from former intelligence agents – that Army intelligence, in the name of preparedness and security, had developed a massive system for monitoring virtually all political protest in the United States. In doing so, it was not content with observing at arms length; Army agents repeatedly infiltrated civilian groups. Moreover, the information they reported was not confined to acts or plans for violence, but included much private information about peoples’ finances, psychiatric records, and sex lives.”

“The size of these and other data banks confirms that the Army’s domestic intelligence operations did not begin with the Newark and Detroit riots of 1967. The events of that summer only expanded activities which had been going on, in varying degrees of intensity, since 1940, and which has its roots as far back as World War I.”

Introduction by Susan Maret, Ph.D.

Prompted by Capt. Christopher Pyle’s 1970 revelations of U.S. Army surveillance; the Tatum v Laird case,  which petitioned  “the courts to enjoin the army from the collection, distribution, storage of information on lawful political activities of persons unassociated with the armed forces”; and Morton Kondrache’s 1972 Chicago Sun-Times reporting, the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights [1] released U.S. Army Surveillance of Civilians: A Documentary Analysis (1972, 92d Congress, 2d session).

The Subcommittee (1972:44) credits Kondrache  with breaking the story regarding the Continental Army Command’s (CONARC 1955-1973) “computerized and non-computerized files” in which the Subcommittee (1974: v) discovered “enormity in data collection” in the surveillance of professors, students, housewives, civil rights workers, and anti-war and political activists.[2] In its Documentary Analysis, the Subcommittee wrote:

The absence of civilian control over this surveillance prior to 1970 has already been established. This report proves an absence of central military control as well. Each major data bank developed independent of others in a milieu which showed little concern for the values of privacy, freedom, efficiency, or economy (1972:97).

In addition to the Subcommittee’s (1972:44, 97) unearthing of an extensive, decades-long intelligence-collection and information-sharing program conducted by CONARC and its “subordinate continental armies and their constituent elements,” most remarkable are the revelations of the Army’s perceptions of their domestic mission and “vacuum cleaner” approach to intelligence-gathering and surveillance:

[Military officers] drew a false analogy between foreign counterintelligence and counterinsurgency operations and the Army’s role in civil disturbances… [D]emonstrators and rioters were not regarded as American citizens with possibly legitimate grievances, but as “dissident forces” deployed against the established order (1972: v).

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