In 1983, John Poindexter, President Regan's national security advisor, realized that the United States might have prevented the massacre of 241 Marines in Beirut if intelligence agencies could have analyzed in real time the data they had on the attackers. What ensued over the next quarter-century were ambitious government efforts to create an intelligence-gathering system of unprecedented scope and sophistication. But despite the billions of dollars spent, the result is a supreme irony: While catching the terrorists hasn't become any easier, spying on the rest of us is now routine. Based on exclusive access to key government sources, this is the chilling history of our nation's evolution into a surveillance state.
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