'It Is Time for Reform': Thousands Rally to End Government Spying

Published on
by
Common Dreams

'It Is Time for Reform': Thousands Rally to End Government Spying

Rally Against Mass Surveillance to be largest demonstration against NSA intrusion

by
Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Update:

Below is Edward Snowden's full statement.

In the last four months, we’ve learned a lot about our government. We’ve learned that the US Intelligence Community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance.

Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.

We’ve also learned this isn’t about red or blue party lines. Neither is it about terrorism.

It is about power, control, and trust in government; about whether you have a voice in our democracy or decisions are made for you rather than with you. We’re here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators.

This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind government to stop them. It’s about our right to know, to associate freely, and to live in an open society.

We are witnessing an American moment in which ordinary people from high schools to high office stand up to oppose a dangerous trend in government.

We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled. We have not forgotten that the Fourth Amendment in our Bill of Rights prohibits government not only from searching our personal effects without a warrant but from seizing them in the first place.

Holding to this principle, we declare that mass surveillance has no place in this country.

It is time for reform. Elections are coming and we’re watching you.

Earlier:

In the wake of revelations that the NSA is tapping the communications of 35 world leaders—including prominent allies—in addition to the rampant surveillance of international and American citizens, thousands of outraged individuals are convening in Washington Saturday to declare: "Stop spying on us!"

In the biggest protest yet against government intrusion—which had recently been thrust into the spotlight through disclosures by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—Americans are coming together to demonstrate to the world that we disapprove of the actions undertaken by our leaders.

Protesters marched to the National Mall where they convened in a Rally Against Mass Surveillance in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Among the speakers are former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Social critic Naomi Wolf, Former senior NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake and whistleblower and attorney Jesselyn Radack—who will read a statement on behalf of Snowden.

Saturday morning, a series of solidarity rallies were held in eight cities throughout Germany where news that the United States had tapped the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to make waves throughout the country.

Earlier this month, US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) declared that reform “is going to take a groundswell of support from lots of Americans across the political spectrum…communicating that business as usual is no longer OK, and they won’t buy the argument that liberty and security are mutually exclusive.”

Saturday's protesters are taking up that mantle.

"This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy," announced the protest organizers in an online petition. "This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy."

The petition is calling on Congress to take immediate action to put an end to the surveillance and "provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs." Over 500,000 people have thus far added their signatures.

The rally comes at a crucial moment, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act and as the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to take up legislation to revise the NSA’s spying authority.

“The American patriots participating in this protest understand the fundamental truth [...]: a true democracy does not treat its entire citizenry as suspects," said Rep. Rush Holt, sponsor of the Surveillance State Repeal Act (H.R. 2818), which would repeal both the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act. 

Saturday's demonstration was organized by a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and businesses, including the ACLU, Access, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, the Free Press Action Fund, FreedomWorks, Mozilla, the National Libertarian Party, reddit, Restore the Fourth, Thoughtworks, and RootsAction.org.

A live stream of the rally can be seen here.

_____________________

Share This Article

More in: