Foreign Policy Magazine

Bigly Brother

Donald Trump has inherited a ready-made surveillance state. Will he use it to impose absolute power?

Americans have been warned for decades about the potential consequences of the U.S. surveillance state—the largest, most powerful, and most intrusive in the world—falling into a would-be tyrant’s hands. With Donald Trump’s inauguration looming, I have to wonder: Was anyone paying attention?

In the summer of 1975, on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Frank Church issued an early admonition. He had just completed a comprehensive investigation of the U.S. intelligence community, and he came away stunned by what he discovered at the National Security Agency (NSA), even in the digital Stone Age. “That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have

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