At Democratic Underground, Daily Kos, Firedoglake and other large liberal multiuser blogs, Representative Alan Grayson issued a fiery call this week condemning the warrantless surveillance of all American phone calls and grand-scale data sweeps of most big-site internet traffic, all undermining your privacy:
Microsoft, Google, Apple – they’re all in on it. Former NSA official William Binney has said that we are “on a slippery slope to a totalitarian state.” I don’t know what’s worse: that I’m not sure he’s right, or that I’m not sure he’s wrong.
Fortunately, I’m a Member of Congress, so I can do something about it. And you are likely an American citizen and voter, which means that you can help.
I’m introducing a bill that I call the “Mind Your Own Business Act”. This bill prohibits our government from spying on us, or collecting data on us, unless there’s probable cause that you have committed or you will commit an act of terrorism or similar criminal offense.
I submitted this provision as an amendment to the House Rules Committee today. I am attempting to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act, which will come up for a vote in the House later this week. Sign your name here to show your support for the Mind Your Own Business Act:
Click here for freedom.
Rep. Alan Grayson
“Click here for freedom.” Is that what “clicking here” really accomplishes? In a word, no.
Let’s start with the articles in Democratic Underground, Daily Kos and Firedoglake. The links in those articles have special tracking codes … so Alan Grayson can track people who follow them back to the source from which they visited Grayson’s website.
Moving on to the website itself, here’s a screen capture of the entire one-page website:
Pay attention to what’s not on the website: the text of the amendment you’re being asked to support. Alan Grayson is asking you to support an amendment that he doesn’t let you read. In case you’re wondering, his articles on Firedoglake etc. don’t link to the text of the amendment either. If you’re really interested in reading the amendment, here’s a copy that I found after some poking around.
Pay further attention to what’s not on the website: the contact information for members of the House Rules Committee, which was to consider Alan Grayson’s amendment on June 13. That is the second piece of information missing that, if present, would have allowed citizens to take informed political action.
What is on the website, if not the text of a bill or contact information for the Rules Committee?
- A banner declaring that Alan Grayson is a “Congressman with Guts”
- A link for you to publicize mindyourownbusinessact.com on Facebook and Twitter
- A big red link for you to contribute to Alan Grayson’s campaign coffers
- Another big red link for you to “sign the petition.”
- A counter indicating that 13,467 people have “signed the petition.”
Real petitions are used to show support for change in a policy. But go ahead and look through Alan Grayson’s press releases, Twitter feed, #nsamindyourownbusiness hashtag and Facebook account. Alan Grayson failed to share the results of his “petition” drive in any of these locations. Rep. Grayson spoke before the Rules Committee on the subject of this amendment, but as you can see (via this House Rules video, 3 hours and 55 minutes into broadcast), Rep. Grayson never brings up the petition or its signatories.
It appears that Rep. Grayson did not actually share the petition signatures with anyone to any political effect. Instead, he used the idea of a “petition” to make people feel that they had engaged in a significant political action when all they had done was surrender their personal information to a government entity — the government entity of Representative Alan Grayson.
The Rules Committee voted down Alan Grayson’s amendment, so it will not be moving forward. But regardless, Alan Grayson’s campaign committee moves forward with over ten thousand new names of potential donors in a fake “petition” that was never deployed. Indeed, in the few minutes since obtaining the screen capture you see above, I notice that Alan Grayson’s “petition” has sucked in the personal information of 900 more citizens who feel that they are making a difference but have only been well-meaning dupes.
I might be a tiny bit more sympathetic to Alan Grayson on this account were it not for the fact that in 2010, Rep. Grayson voted to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act without any reforms — the very same Patriot Act that enabled the government to collect all of our phone records.
When Alan Grayson had the chance to take action and stop warrantless, suspicionless government surveillance, he voted to enable it instead — and now he’s manipulating people who want to take action into surrendering their personal information to his self-serving political campaign machine. Shame on him.