During national crises, the United States government often reacts overzealously. It takes actions that curtail the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people. These laws, executive orders and government measures have been in reaction to public fears and public demands for a swift response. Yet the flames of fear have also been fanned for political advantage. Federal agencies have acted to intimidate, harass, alienate, deport, and silence organizations and individuals. Historically, dissenting voices included advocates as diverse as labor and peace activists, immigrant-rights groups, political opponents, and civil rights leaders.
The targets often are those with the most precarious standing in the country: minorities and new immigrants. Ironically, it is the struggle of the people on the fringes of society that has strengthened the civil rights of all Americans.
Tracked in America introduces the stories of 25 individuals who have been targeted by the U.S. government. The stories span from World War I to the post-9/11 world. Six eminent historians provide historical perspective and context to the time periods in which these individuals were under surveillance. Together, the profiles convey the courage of these individuals and reveal a dangerous pattern of government surveillance.
About “Tracked in America”
This documentary Web site explores more than two centuries of surveillance in America. Included are two hours of audio interviews, 300 photographs, and 25 personal stories beginning in 1917. The site is designed for you to choose your path of exploration. Suggested paths include a chronological journey by time period (via the main navigation bar) or a thematic approach following similar experiences across time (via the "Themes" box on the page of each individual's story).