guanxi (216397) writes "The NSA programs may be new, but in the United States government surveillance of its citizens is not. The Surveillance State's origins are in 1917, as Woodrow Wilson looked to rally support (and suppress dissent) for World War I: "Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson read mail and revoked publications’ mailable status that was then used by prosecutors as proof that those publishers were seditious in court cases.
... Soldiers went undercover, such as one who broke into the National Civil Liberties Bureau’s offices ... Prosecutors convicted Eugene V. Debs for seditious speech when he offered praise to three socialists recently convicted under the Espionage Act. ... some 20,000 civilian volunteers of the vigilante American Protective League ... detained about 60,000 men for possible draft dodging, even though they had no legal authority to do so. This same organization investigated their fellow Americans for most of the major intelligence agencies, barging into peoples’ homes and offices. ..." With modern networks, data collection and analysis, we won't need as many vigilantes or to physically break into offices and homes."