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'Frontline: United States of Secrets' promises 'definitive history' of domestic surveillance

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Over the past two weeks, the Pulitzer and Polk awards have recognized the work of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and other journalists responsible for bringing Edward Snowden's leaked documents to print. But one of the most high-profile TV reports on US surveillance was an uncritically supportive look from CBS and 60 Minutes. Today, PBS announced plans for a two-part Frontline special called United States of Secrets, which promises the "definitive history" of domestic surveillance since the September 11th attacks. The first part of the series, airing May 13th, is reported by Michael Kirk, who was recently awarded a Polk award for NFL concussion exposé League of Denial. It will examine the roots of the surveillance program in Washington, DC. Martin Smith, another award-winning Frontline producer and correspondent, will investigate the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA in a second installment on May 20th.

PBS has tackled the topic of surveillance before. In 2011, it aired Frontline: Top Secret America, based on a two-year Washington Post investigation by journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin. Frontline revisited the topic after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Depending on its scope, the first episode of United States of Secrets will be either competing with or complementing Glenn Greenwald's book on the NSA and US surveillance, which is released the same day as the first episode. Laura Poitras, meanwhile, is currently editing her own documentary about the Snowden leaks.