Repressing “Un-American Activities”: The Historical Roots of Today’s Homeland Surveillance State | Global Research
By Greg Guma
Global Research, June 07, 2013
Excerpts from Vanguard Press feature story, April 29, 1980
Political rights are so easily taken for granted – until they’re threatened or curtailed by repressive laws. In the United States, they are usually most vulnerable when people are anxious about some outside threat.
After World War II, for instance, dissent became risky as relations with Russia hardened into Cold War I. Hysteria about domestic Communist subversion led quickly to state and congressional investigations of “un-American activities.” And in 1951, a Supreme Court decision led to the imprisonment of eleven Communist leaders, not for any overt acts threatening national security, but rather for trying to organize a political party and teach Marxism.
Today the threats to political liberty are no less imminent.
The groundwork was actually laid when a proposal for a massive rewrite of the US criminal code became the Nixon administration’s blueprint for crushing dissent and savaging the Bill of Rights. After Watergate and FBI–CIA revelations, proposed charters for the intelligence community were exploited as springboards to legalize intrusive techniques. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court moved toward prior restraint of free speech.
Prior restraint of the press became government policy in March 1979 when The Progressive magazine was prevented from publishing an article on the H-bomb. The ban succeeded for six months, on grounds that the 1954 Atomic Energy Act gave the government the right to suppress nuclear knowledge. Although the case was eventually dropped, the law may very well be used again.
Original Vanguard Press cover, 1980……………