The National Security Agency secretly tapped into the overseas phone calls of prominent critics of the Vietnam War, including Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali and two actively serving US senators, newly declassified material has revealed.
The NSA has been forced to disclose previously secret passages in its own official four-volume history of its Cold War snooping activities. The newly-released material reveals the breathtaking – and probably illegal – lengths the agency went to in the late 1960s and 70s, in an attempt to try to hold back the rising tide of anti-Vietnam war sentiment.
That included tapping into the phone calls and cable communications of two serving senators – the Idaho Democrat Frank Church and Howard Baker, a Republican from Tennessee who, puzzlingly, was a firm supporter of the war effort in Vietnam. The NSA also intercepted the foreign communications of prominent journalists such as Tom Wicker of the New York Times and the popular satirical writer for the Washington Post, Art Buchwald.
Alongside King, a second leading civil rights figure, Whitney Young of the National Urban League, was also surreptitiously monitored.
~ from Declassified NSA Files Show Agency Spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK by Ed Pilkington ~
We've known for years that the FBI spied on MLK and Ali, but now we know that the agency tasked specifically with gathering FOREIGN intelligence was doing the same damn thing! And it had nothing to do with violence or terrorism; both were targeted simply because of their political viewpoints.
But I don't think that's the big story here. No, it is the revelation that the NSA was spying on two seated US Senators and, as Pilkington points out, one of them was an ardent supporter of the Vietnam War. It certainly makes you wonder if other classified documents might show that ALL members of Congress were being surveilled.
Of course, the current NSA will say these are "mistakes" of the past. The agency has reformed itself. Bull! The revelations of the past few months show otherwise. Today's NSA acts just as brazenly now as before.
If I was a current member of Congress, I would be damn worried that the NSA is monitoring all of my communications. It is bad enough that the NSA is spying on the unwashed masses here and abroad, but there is every reason to believe that they are spying on the power brokers as well.