PBS Frontline: Spying on the Home Front (2007)


Synopsis: Spying on the Home Front looks at the massive FBI data sweep of U.S. citizen’s records and the electronic surveillance of their communications.  FRONTLINE investigates  National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping and how the FBI and other intelligence agencies”data mine” – sift through Internet communications –  of millions of Americans, and that the FBI and are mining social media and commercial-sector data banks to an unprecedented degree.

Experienced national security officials and government attorneys see a troubling and potentially dangerous collision between the strategy of pre-emption at home and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Peter Swire, a law professor and former White House privacy adviser to President Clinton, tells FRONTLINE that since 9/11 the government has been moving away from the traditional legal standard of investigations based on individual suspicion to generalized suspicion. The new standard, Swire says, is: “Check everybody. Everybody is a suspect.” Former CIA Assistant General Counsel, Suzanne Spaulding, warns “So many people in America think this does not affect them. They’ve been convinced that these programs are only targeted at suspected terrorists. … I think that’s wrong. … Our programs are not perfect, and it is inevitable that totally innocent Americans are going to be affected by these programs.”


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