On June 5, the Guardian published a report based on a leak from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, detailing how the NSA surveils U.S. phone calls, collecting and analyzing cell phone metadata from Verizon. The following day, the Washington Post revealed PRSIM, a program that allowed the NSA to monitor electronic communications like emails, photos, and chat messages from the customers of virtually every major computer and internet company. We’ve been here before.
The scope and the depth of the NSA’s monitoring of domestic communications is worrying, but for anyone that’s been following the agency, it shouldn’t be surprising. Using the New York Times’ article archive, which contains digital copies of every article published by that paper since 1851, we’ve put together a story about how each aspect of the current scandal–the surveillance of U.S. citizens, the compliance of tech companies, the demonization of leakers–is part of a pattern that’s been repeating for decades, a pattern that couldn’t even be halted by federal legislation specifically designed to stop it.