Keeping Taps

Various agencies including the FBI, CIA, NSA, and the Department of Defense have a long history of intercepting telegrams, phone calls, mail and other private communications. A Supreme Court ruling in 1928 held that phone tapping did not violate the Fourth Amendment banning illegal search and seizure, as long as the authorities did not encroach on the individual’s physical property, but in 1967, that ruling was overturned and required the government to obtain a warrant for wiretapping activities.

Cartoonists like Herblock and Walt Kelly, helped bring these secret surveillance activities of the government to the attention of the public, as seen in these comics from the archive printed in our Secrets issue, curated by Jenny Robb of the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Herblock, “The Recording Angels,” The Washington Post (March 14, 1955)

Herblock, “Taped,” The Washington Post (January 18, 1970)

Walt Kelly, Pogo (July 21, 1971). Copyright Okefenokee Glee & Perloo, Inc. Used by permission.

Walt Kelly, Pogo (September 4, 1971). Copyright Okefenokee Glee & Perloo, Inc. Used by permission.

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