Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Spying on the Home Front [home page]FRONTLINE [series home]
  • home page
  • preemption
  • interviews
  • site map
  • discussion
  • watch online

The New Era of Pre-emption/Prevention

Inside the NSA
Created in 1952 by a secret executive order by President Truman, the National Security Agency (NSA) is the largest and most secretive of U.S. intelligence agencies -- so secretive that it is joked that its acronym stands for "No Such Agency" or "Never Say Anything." Its historic mission has been to gather communications intelligence on enemies abroad; a cardinal rule was "hands off Americans at home." However, according to author James Bamford, at several points in its history it has broken that rule. Here, Bamford and two individuals who have worked inside the NSA describe its practices and mind-set.

Total Information Awareness
After 9/11, the U.S. government began an information stampede to collect any information that might prevent another attack. One of the most ambitious -- and controversial -- plans was a data-mining program known as Total Information Awareness, or TIA. Here, in two Web-exclusive videos, some of the architects behind TIA explain the concept, debate whether it could have worked, and lament the lack of public discussion now that elements of the program are being pursued outside of the public eye.

Sincerely Yours: The FBI's National Security Letters
Since late 2001, the FBI had been using a type of administrative subpoena known as a national security letter (NSL) to acquire reams of financial and communication records to aid investigations. But in the inner-most circles of politics, technology and law, a debate has raged over the power wielded by a few sheets of paper.

The Federal Government and My Privacy
A short explainer of some of the laws protecting privacy and a closer look at federal data-mining efforts, with links to additional readings and advocacy organizations.

The NSA and the Telecoms
President Bush's domestic surveillance program isn't the first time that the telecom industry has been caught up in allegations that the government was conducting illegal domestic surveillance. Here's background on their historic relationship.

In Their Own Words
Excerpts from the Bush administration's statements on the president's domestic surveillance program.

The Church Committee Hearings & the FISA Court
A closer look at the famous post-Watergate investigation into domestic spying abuses and how it led to a secret court to authorize surveillance requests.

home . introduction . watch online . pre-emption . interviews . analysis . what happens in vegas... . join the discussion
correspondent's chat . readings & links . site map . dvd & transcript . press reaction
credits . privacy policy . journalistic guidelines . FRONTLINE series home . wgbh . pbs

posted may. 15, 2007

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
camera photograph © john wilkes studio/corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation