Tag Archives: Obama

Test Your Power: Rally Against Mass Spying, Sat 10/26 in DC

stopwatchingus

Mass surveillance getting you down? Feel like the federal government doesn’t trust you, and wants access to everything you do, say, or even think? Then come on out with us in the nation’s biggest ever rally against mass spying, on Oct. 26 in Washington, DC!

We’re calling for Congress to:

Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;

Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Without our pressure, the very best we can hope for is for the government to become marginally more transparent about how they are spying on our every moment. The Obama administration has not supported any changes to the NSA’s actual programs, and has done its best to block meaningful discussion of reform.

Maybe you’re content simply with knowing what abuses are being committed against you. We’re going to DC to send the message that the abuses themselves must end. The only kind of surveillance that the Fourth Amendment allows is also the only kind that really works: surveillance of individuals, based on probable cause of their involvement in an actual crime. Anything beyond that is a grave threat to our freedom to live our own lives as we wish.

Sign up to attend or volunteer here. And if you can’t make it to DC that day, here’s a link for other ways you can help.

UPDATE: Our new article on the rally gives much more detail.

Now We’re Talking: Rep. Rush Holt (D-PA) files “Surveillance State Repeal Act”

In response to a groundswell of public horror at the intrusiveness and enormous scale of the surveillance state, President Obama appointed a blue-ribbon panel to consider changes – not to the programs themselves, God forbid, because Terror, but changes to how much we know about how much the government is spying on us.

Once again, as is so often the case, “Yes Minister” tells us what’s going on:

Sir Humphrey Appleby: … I am fully seized of your aims and of course I will do my utmost to see that they are put into practice.
James Hacker: If you would.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: And to that end, I recommend that we set up an interdepartmental committee with fairly broad terms of reference so that at the end of the day we’ll be in the position to think through the various implications and arrive at a decision based on long-term considerations rather than rush prematurely into precipitate and possibly ill-conceived action which might well have unforeseen repercussions.
James Hacker: You mean no.

Fortunately, some members of Congress are wise enough to see through this charade. Among them is progressive Democrat and physicist Dr. Rush Holt (D-PA), who has filed the “Surveillance State Repeal Act“.

Unlike more mealy-mouthed efforts at “reform”, this one strikes at the guts of the problem: the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act themselves. Simply put, without these Acts, the kind of mass surveillance conducted by the NSA would no longer have any figleaf of legality. The FISA Amendments Act’s main purpose was to legalize what the government had already been doing, and immunize from prosecution the companies who had colluded with the government’s illegal warrantless surveillance of Americans. Then-Senator Obama (this is always worth pointing out) voted for it. He has never sincerely opposed mass government surveillance, he doesn’t oppose it now, and he will do his best to secure an outcome where nothing about what the NSA is actually doing has to change. And I say this as someone who voted for him in 2012, based on our agreement on many non-surveillance-related issues.

So, please call your congressmember and ask them to cosponsor Rep. Holt’s excellent bill, which also provides better protections for government whistleblowers. And if you’re in DC toward the end of October, please sign up to come and protest for surveillance reform with the Stopwatching.us coalition.

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