A crucial vote is about to take place in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan amendment that would “block funding for NSA programs using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to mass collect the call records of innocent Americans.” This is a major turning point in the battle for the Fourth Amendment and against unconstitutional surveillance, and we need to act fast and flood Congress with calls in support of the amendment.
Yesterday Congress received more than 60,000 calls and 100,000 emails in support of it, and those working on Capitol Hill tell us the pressure we’re putting on is being noticed by lawmakers, the White House, and the NSA alike. Last night we learned that the vote has been delayed from early today to either this evening or Thursday, giving us an extra day to call Congress. We need to use this extra time to our advantage and make sure at least another 100,000 Americans speak out in favor of defunding NSA spying.
Blocking funding for these programs would be a huge policy change in favor of privacy and the Fourth Amendment. But even if the vote to amend the bill narrowly falls short, or the amended bill is vetoed, getting 200+ representatives to vote for the amendment would be a great momentum boost for our movement and a mortal wound against unconstitutional surveillance. Above all, we can’t let this vote get defeated by a wide margin and let the NSA think they have nothing to be afraid of.
So we need to do two things today:
Visit defundthensa.com, set up by Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, and use it to call Congress and tell your representatives to vote to defund unconstitutional surveillance. Then urge your friends and family to do the same.
Visit the thunderclap and pledge to spread the word about this vote on social media.
This is in our hands, but we need to act fast, so let’s go.
These organizations and the American people are right to fear the NSA’s secret and unconstitutional collection of private information, the threat of which goes beyond the illegality and the ongoing violation of your privacy. For instance, Edward Snowden demonstrated that the NSA’s internal safeguards are not effective at controlling their employees’ or their contractors’ access to information. Who knows what someone with different intentions but access to the same information might have done? Additionally, we’re setting the precedent that it’s OK for the government to violate our rights and privacy this way, and allowing our government to create more and more tools with which to do so. This brings us much closer to the wide-scale use of spying as a political tool, something oppressive governments have employed throughout history.
While yesterday’s hearings were a step in the right direction for Congress, it was also revealed that the NSA can look at telephone and Internet data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from “everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.” As the momentum to challenge unconstitutional surveillance builds, the magnitude of the threat does as well. Both of these are strong reasons to increase efforts to spread awareness and pressure the government to take additional action.
George Orwell’s novel 1984 is a chilling vision of what might lie ahead if we don’t take action. While the technology used in the novel is different, the basic principles are the same. And while we may not live in a society like Orwell described this year, or next, that is only because of the vigilance we have shown in preventing it, and now that vigilance is needed as much as ever.
Just as our protests on July 4th got the attention of the NSA as well as that of national and international media, 1984 Day’s events will serve as a reminder that our protests were not just a party. To capitalize on our great work two weeks ago, we must teach them that it was the start of a still-growing movement, one that will not stop until unconstitutional surveillance is ended. This will be Restore the Fourth’s second set of simultaneous nationwide events, but instead of each city hosting a protest, this time different local chapters will be experimenting with a variety of event types, from rallies to speaking engagements to street theater and much more. While some already have something scheduled, most of the local organizers that put together July 4th’s protests are convening now to decide what 1984 Day’s events will be. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter and check out the national Facebook event page so that you receive updates on newly scheduled events, especially if there isn’t one planned for your area yet. If you’re interested in helping, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll either put you in contact with those already working on it or set you up to take the lead yourself.
It’s 2013 and 1984 still hasn’t quite come. By working together on August 4th, we can make sure it doesn’t come in 2014 or any other year either.