The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 3           January 23, 2006  
Oppose government spying
Top U.S. government officials are campaigning to win greater public acceptance of domestic spying and disruption operations by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the rest of the political police. They want to carry out more freely some of the cop operations that, since the early 1970s, they have largely had to conduct secretly because of the political space working people won through the civil rights battles, struggles for women’s rights, and the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Under the impact of those struggles, intertwined with Washington’s defeat in Vietnam and the resulting Watergate crisis, some of the government’s assaults on constitutional rights were exposed. The U.S. rulers decided to let part of the truth come out in order to contain their political losses and restore the weakened credibility of their cop agencies. That was the meaning of the 1975 Church Committee hearings in the Senate, which focused public attention on the use of snoops, provocateurs, wiretaps, mail surveillance, and “black bag jobs” organized by the FBI and other cop agencies against opponents of government policies. The cops didn’t end these operations, but they were forced to conduct them more surreptitiously and accept some limited formal restrictions.

Today, to gain support for loosening these constraints, U.S. officials say they need to conduct wiretapping without even a fig leaf of a warrant because “we’re at war against terrorism,” and that civil liberties must be “balanced” against “national security.” They insist the president has the “inherent authority” to do so. That’s the same argument at the heart of the government’s defense during an earlier lawsuit by the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance against FBI spying and disruption, actions that were declared unconstitutional in a 1986 court ruling.

What’s behind the current moves by the White House? Why do Democratic critics, despite partisan complaints about lack of “oversight,” accept the basic argument that “the president needs strong tools” such as secret wiretapping of U.S. residents?

Today, as before, the main targets of the FBI, NSA, and other “homeland security” cops are the unions, Black rights fighters, and other opponents of government policies. The billionaire families that rule the United States through the government and their twin parties—the Democrats and Republicans—know their profit system has entered today a turbulent period of economic depression and wars. They know that in the coming years they must resort to rougher methods against workers and farmers, who will resist the effects of this social crisis. At the same time, they do not face the explosive political conditions of the 1960s and ’70s, generated by the Black rights and related struggles, that imposed restraints on their political police operations.

Working people must defend their hard-won political rights today, necessary tools in organizing to protect themselves against the assaults by the employers and their government, cops, and courts. We must oppose all government domestic spying and disruption operations.
Related articles:
U.S. rulers seek support for domestic police spying  
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