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article imageDocuments reveal NSA spied on Martin Luther King Jr

By Layne Weiss     Sep 26, 2013 in Politics
According to declassified documents, the NSA spied on civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr and boxer Muhammad Ali when the Vietnam war protests were at an all time high.
The documents also reveal that the NSA also spied on journalists from The Washington Post and The New York Times, BBC News reports.
Some NSA officials later described these actions as "disreputable if not outright illegal," according to the documents.
The operation, called "Minaret," was originally brought to light in the 1970s, but the names of those on the phone-tapping "watch list," had been kept a mystery until now.
The secret papers were distributed after a government panel ruled in favor of researchers at George Washington University.
The university's National Security Archive said the names on the watch list were "eye popping."
The NSA spied on Martin Luther King Jr, civil rights leader Whitney Young, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker, and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald.
The agency also monitored the overseas phone calls of democratic senator Frank Church and republican senator Howard Baker.
Between 1967 and 1973, about 1,650 US citizens were monitored by the NSA under the "Minaret" program, Press TV reports.
Documents found at University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library reveal that the US observed foreign travel and overseas communications of anti-war activists such as David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Bernardine Dohrn, Kathy Boudin, and Robert Franklin Williams, as well as a number of prominent African-Americans, such as Eldridge Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael.
The documents also infer that Martin Luther King Jr, an opponent of the US' involvement in Vietnam, was monitored until his assassination in 1968.
Many of the people targeted by the NSA were considered to be critics of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, BBC News reports.
Anti-war protests bothered president Lyndon Johnson to the point where he asked US intelligence agencies to spy and find out if some of these protests were being fueled by foreign governments. Being annoyed by these protests, he was trying to somehow link foreign leaders to US civil rights leaders.
Through his request, the NSA and other spy agencies worked together to create a list of anti-war critics and then tap their phone calls. "Minaret" continued even after Richard Nixon took office in 1969. In 1973, US Attorney General Elliot Richardson shut down the program.
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