United States of Secrets

United States of Secrets is a two-part documentary in which “Frontline” investigates the secret history of the unprecedented surveillance program that began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and continues today. Right after we were attacked by terrorists in 2001, these men in the government stole our civil liberties. The film’s focus is on the National Security Agency (NSA), and its surveillance programs that came to light with the Snowden Leaks. The film first delves briefly into the history of the NSA, explaining that it was founded to prevent another Pearl Harbor. The NSA is a United States intelligence agency responsible for global monitoring, collection, decoding, translation and analysis of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. Watch as our intelligence service grows from having no information so they can’t see a sneak attack coming (9/11) — to having so much information they can’t see a sneak attack coming (US Embassy, Libya) — or even notice that a low-level computer clerk (Snowden) is swiping classified documents by the thumb-drive-full. The timeline of the first episode begins on September 11, 2001, and talks about the reaction within the NSA and Washington to the attacks. From there it chronicles the proposals, conception, implementation, and growth of the various programs that the NSA uses to collect data. This documentary goes into great detail about the controversy of those programs, and highlights the internal discourse within the NSA over the legality and ethics of the programs. This documentary manages to interview many of the key players involved. Overall, Frontline does a wonderful job of going through the story in detail and providing interviews from both whistle-blowers and the Washington scum who cooked up and carried out this heinous scheme. It does a great job of showing both sides of the argument. Frontline provides interviews from a wide spectrum of top-ranked government officials. It also provides clarity and answers about the past cover-ups and those that continue. One thing that infuriates me is how self-righteous both presidents and their cronies were when whistle-blowers dared to go public. They unhesitatingly destroy the lives of whistle-blowers, claiming that what they’re doing is treasonous. But it is really these actions of the U.S. government that are completely illegal and unconstitutional to begin with.  Anyone interested enough to watch this probably won’t be surprised at the chilling decay of our civil liberties. It’s been happening for years by politicians on both sides of the aisle. This Frontline special is worth trading any disposable 2 1/2 hours you have for an education and enlightenment about what’s been going on here. This two-part series is nearly flawless and one of the best Frontline productions yet. It captures varying points of view on U.S. surveillance and data collection, its history from a post-9/11 standpoint, whistle-blowing and the media, and the relationship between government surveillance and the web’s private sector. Well-rounded, informative, concise and fair, this Frontline production manages to be both a great introduction to the issue of government surveillance in the digital age, and also engaging for those of us well-educated on the issue. It surely encourages questions and critical thought. This is an excellent, well-produced documentary. I really enjoyed it. Much of the information presented I knew very little about. I would recommend this documentary to all, as it is very interesting and informative. Overall, this is one of the best Frontline docs I’ve seen. This has fully reaffirmed my respect for Frontline. Documentary 2014 TV-PG 2 Episodes.

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