President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act.
Americans have been spying on each other since the earliest days of the republic. This interactive timeline is an attempt to highlight some of the most important events in that history, though it is by no means comprehensive: each event, in turn, has its own string of relevant events, nearly ad infinitum. Still, one spin through this timeline demonstrates that the most recent NSA scandal is far from unheard of, that public memory is depressingly short, and that significant public outcry is rare. Surveillance, by now, is an American tradition.
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