The essence of the Fourth Amendment is that the government should leave you and your stuff alone, unless they can satisfy a judge that they have probable cause of your involvement in an actual crime.
Today, we’re calling for Congress to investigate whether the FBI is keeping that promise, relating to domestic advocacy groups, including Restore The Fourth itself.
Pat Eddington, of the Cato Institute, has spent much of 2019 trying to figure out the contours of FBI domestic surveillance. To that end, he sent off Freedom of Information Act requests to DOJ, asking for over 200 organizations whether the FBI had records relating to them. After a lengthy process of appeals, he received a response that said that for most of the organizations concerned, FBI had no responsive records, either in its domestic databases or its foreign intelligence and national security databases. For us, and for just a few other organizations, however, FBI refused to confirm or deny whether they had responsive records in their foreign intelligence and national security databases. It seems likely, based on this “Glomar” response, that there has been some kind of improper data-gathering or surveillance of us and other organizations, in violation of the FBI’s own rules as well as the Constitution.
Of course, it’s not just this sequence of FOIA requests that provides evidence of substantial FBI surveillance of people peacefully petitioning the government for a redress of grievances. From Muslim rights groups to Occupy, from Standing Rock to so-called “Black Identity Extremists”, the FBI has been taking a steadily deeper interest since 9/11 in policing domestic dissent, as it shifted from a “law enforcement” focus to a “counter-terrorism” focus.
It’s time for our Senators and Members of Congress, especially those on the Judiciary Committee, to stand up and demand that they respect Americans’ rights. Call your Senator and Congressmember now on (202) 224-3121 to support our call!