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Press Reaction

Brian Lowry, Variety

"'Spying on the Home Front' ... soberly presses for a discussion about the tradeoff between security and civil liberties in the face of data-mining technologies that have made it possible to gather information in unprecedented ways. Deftly reported by Hedrick Smith, the most chilling exchange comes from John Yoo -- the Justice Dept. lawyer who wrote memos justifying the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program -- who seems to advocate nearly boundless executive power so long as the preemptive inquiries are conducted in the name of thwarting terrorism. ...

"'Frontline' remains a welcome haven of thoughtful reporting, especially when juxtaposed against TV news fare that's too busy trying to stoke such apprehensions to consider the underlying causes."


Linton Weeks, The Washington Post

"… The questions raised in the documentary are legitimate -- and the answers elusive. Throughout, there is a sense of the ominous. ...

"Occasionally disjointed, 'Spying' is for the most part disturbing. It makes you think that the government will be paying attention whether you watch it or not. So you might as well."


Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

"… [I]n 'Spying on the Home Front,' tonight on PBS's 'Frontline,' Hedrick Smith doesn't merely re-sound the familiar alarm that public officials are rooting through our mail and phone records. He suggests that the domestic surveillance begun by the Bush administration after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, redefines the legal standards on which the United States was founded. Old standard: Law enforcement's job is to seek out a specific suspect and/or investigate a specific crime. New standard: Everyone is a suspect, and the crimes will be specified when those in charge are good and ready."


John Doyle, The Globe and Mail (Canada)

"The question put in this very provocative Frontline is this: Is the Bush administration's domestic war on terrorism jeopardizing civil liberties? Reporter Hedrick Smith presents new material on how the National Security Agency's domestic-surveillance program works and examines clashing viewpoints on whether the president has infringed on constitutional protections."


Molly Willow, The Columbus Dispatch

"For a truly harrowing tale, the stellar PBS series Frontline looks into domestic surveillance with 'Spying on the Home Front.' ..."


Glenn Greenwald, Salon

"… [T]he program does not really contain blockbuster new revelations that are unknown to those who have been attentive to these matters, but is nonetheless very much worth watching because it powerfully dramatizes the severity of privacy erosion at the hands of a federal government operating largely in the dark. …"


Sam Allis, The Boston Globe

"… Since 2005, great attention has been paid to domestic spying. So what new is there to say about it in 2007? Not much. What we have here is largely a rehash of an old story. Why, then, watch 'Spying on the Home Front' at all?

"Two reasons. First is Hedrick Smith, whose Hedrick Smith Productions coproduced the show with 'Frontline.' The man is a great reporter who is quietly relentless in his pursuit of the story. He asks all the right questions and all the right follow-ups.

"Second are the stories he tells. Smith details two case histories, one in Las Vegas and another in San Francisco, that bring the message home. Forget familiar clips of Senate hearings and Bush press conferences, both of which are in the program, it is these two cases, and only these cases, that will keep you awake. ..."

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posted may. 15, 2007

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