The elected officers of Restore The Fourth endorsed the new “Shut Down The Spy Centers” Day of Action planned for April 10.
There are now 85 spy centers (also called “fusion centers”) across the nation, with more opening up in 2014 in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. When they began ten years ago, they were intended to provide “joined-up intelligence” to prevent terrorist attacks. What they have become is very different. In fact, the Senate investigated in 2012 and found that no spy center had ever thwarted a terrorist attack, despite over $1 billion in federal spending and substantially more from the states. There just isn’t enough actual terrorism to go round. Instead, the spy centers are spending their time and money doing something much easier – helping local and state police harass peaceful activists and suppress First Amendment-protected activity. Now, just last week, the New York Times revealed that in early 2012 the spy centers were given ongoing access to all data collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The spy centers now give your local police access, without a warrant, to all the data the NSA has on you, going back at least five years and covering every single US resident.
The Constitution is clear. The Fourth Amendment says that “no Warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” You can’t just declare that the government can collect an ocean of data on everybody and no warrant is needed because terror.
Our cross-partisan coalition includes the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CodePINK, Critical Resistance, Digital Fourth and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Restore The Fourth chapters in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Montana, Pennsylvania and Boston are helping to move the effort forward.
We are demanding (1) that the fusion centers release the secret files held on Americans not suspected of any crime; (2) that, in view of this massive waste of public funds, state governments withdraw funding for fusion centers; and that the fusion centers be shut down on Constitutional grounds.
It’s time for our post-September-11 national security panic to end, and for us to live lives free of Big Brother.