Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980

Joan M. Jensen, Author Yale University Press $65 (328p) ISBN 978-0-300-04668-7
This eye-opening scholarly study reveals the extraordinary extent of the U.S. Army's role in domestic surveillance from the nation's beginning to recent times. Jensen illustrates how military interventions at home and civilian reactions to them (during the early labor movement, for instance) led to formal internal-security policies like the Plant Protection Program during WW I--the government systematically kept tabs on vast numbers of workers, guarding against espionage and sabotage--and contingency plans for a ``war against American civilians'' (War Plans White) which were drawn up in the 1920s at the Army War College. The author describes how Army surveillance changed intent from counterespionage to counterdissent during the Vietnam war, as the Army was drawn deeply into infiltration of the antiwar movement. Also traced here are the emotionally charged debates over civil liberties and the limits of government power provoked by the frequent executive use of the Army to maintain internal security. The author is a history professor at New Mexico State University. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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