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Stories from the History of U.S. Government Surveillance

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).

Visitors are encouraged to get involved and sign up for timely updates on the issue of surveillance.

Contents

Pre-World War I

A Nation of Immigrants: Surveillance of Unions, Radicals, and Immigrants

World War I

Targeting Anti-War Dissent and German-Americans

Pearl Harbor

The Internment of Japanese-Americans

McCarthy Era

Era of Political Conformity and Loyalty

Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam

Unlawful Surveillance, Intimidation, and Harassment

Sanctuary

Central America to Terrorism

After 9/11

The War on Terror
ACLU of Northern California ACLU
Council for Arab Islamic RelationsCalifornia Library AssociationAmnesty InternationalCalifornia Federation of TeachersCalifornia Teachers Association
The Sikh CoalitionCalifornia Association of Human Rights OrganizationsLa Raza Centro LegalAsian American Legal Defense and Education FundAsian Law Caucus
South Asian American Leaders for TomorrowAsian Pacific American Legal CenterWherever There's a FightMuslim Advocates