With the Senate set to cast its first votes on a bill that reauthorizes and expands the government's already vast warrantless spying program in a matter of hours, civil libertarians on Tuesday launched a last-ditch effort to rally opposition to the legislation and demand that lawmakers protect Americans' constitutional right to privacy.
"In the age of federal misconduct, every member of Congress must move right now to stop the government's abuse of the internet to monitor everyone."
—Fight for the Future
Fight for the Future (FTF), one of many advocacy groups pressuring lawmakers to stop the mass surveillance bill in its tracks, notes that "just 41 senators can stop" the bill from passing.
"In the age of federal misconduct, every member of Congress must move right now to stop the government's abuse of the internet to monitor everyone; they must safeguard our freedom and the U.S. Constitution," FTF urged.
The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S.139)—passed by the House last week with the revealing but not surprising help of 65 Democrats—would renew Section 702 of FISA, set to expire this Friday.
Today's vote (happening around 5PM) will authorize the White House to carry out unconstitutional, warrantless monitoring of "one-end domestic" communications for the next six years. Please, make a call and stand up for the 4th Amendment. Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121 https://t.co/uJW8h3QfdX
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 16, 2018
As The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald notes, "numerous Senate Democrats are poised" to join their House colleagues in voting to re-up Section 702, thus violating "the privacy rights of everyone in the United States" and handing President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions sprawling spying powers.
The Senate's first procedural vote on a cloture motion is expected at 5:30pm ET. If the motion is approved, the path will be clear for the bill to hit the Senate floor.
"Every member of Congress is going to have to decide whether to protect Americans' privacy, and shield vulnerable communities from unconstitutional targeting, or to leave unconstitutional spying authority in Trump's—and Jeff Sessions'—hands," the advocacy group Indivisible notes.
Some senators are trying to invoke "cloture" on FISA reauth bill (effectively killing debate). They want to keep legislation that reauthorizes & expands domestic spying programs hidden from us. Call (202) 804-3305 & tell your senators to vote NO on cloture https://t.co/kXzTQ62F3d
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) January 16, 2018
Tell your senator TODAY to vote AGAINST cloture on the surveillance bill:
> It EXPANDS surveillance of Americans
> It does NOT require a WARRANT before searching your online comms
> 44 orgs—from ACLU to FreedomWorks—oppose
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Vote at 5:30. Call/tweet NOW. 202-224-3121
Please RT. pic.twitter.com/Bi6x18osG9
— Daniel Schuman (@danielschuman) January 16, 2018
Famed whistleblower Edward Snowden joined advocacy groups in calling on the American public to pressure their representatives to vote down "a bill granting the White House greater authority spy on immigrants, journalists, dissidents, and you."
"If you care for the Constitution, you have only hours left to call and stop this," Snowden concluded.
The Senate is rubber-stamping a bill granting the White House greater authority spy on immigrants, journalists, dissidents, and you. Whether you're for or against Trump, if you care for the Constitution, you have only hours left to call & stop this (link: https://t.co/E5MvaylzW7) https://t.co/VZiyQD800n
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 16, 2018
On its website dedicated to the effort to stop the warrantless spying bill, FTF argues that lawmakers who vote against the privacy rights of Americans "don't deserve to be in the Senate" and threatens to target pro-warrantless spying senators in upcoming elections—by, among other methods, erecting billboards highlighting the senator's record on privacy in key districts.
FTF goes on to outline some crucial steps the public can take to place pressure on their representatives ahead of Tuesday's vote: