Barack Obama was elected President under a promise to restore respect for Americans’ constitutional rights, and to reform the FISA Amendments Act and Patriot Act, laws that had created an extreme surveillance state under George W. Bush’s Homeland Security mania. As President, Obama has broken these promises. Obama has moved to prevent reform of the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act, and all signs show that the electronic spying network at the National Security Agency has expanded its activities under President Obama’s watch, purposefully evading judicial and congressional oversight to establish a nearly omnipresent system of surveillance that makes Big Brother look like a pipsqueak.
Every week brings new information about how outrageous the NSA spying has become. Just over the weekend, we learned that the NSA’s military spies routinely seize and search records of Americans’ peaceful, lawful credit card purchases as they travel overseas. These credit card dragnets are conducted without any particular suspicion of wrongdoing. It’s just one of a huge number of examples of Barack Obama’s security philosophy: That “balance” between constitutional rights is established only when the federal government has the power to keep Americans under constant watch.
It’s an authoritarian power grab that completely ignores the clear restrictions that the Fourth Amendment places on government searches for information: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants 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.”
Barack Obama has not kept his promise of transparency about the NSA spying program. Revelations, both from Edward Snowden and forced from President Obama by activist lawsuits, have shown that Obama has continued to attempt to deceive Americans about NSA spying programs throughout the summer. Both Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress have been complicit with Presidents Bush and Obama in keeping the NSA spying programs running without restraint, and without reform.
If the NSA spying is ever going to be put to a stop, the American people themselves will have to step forward and take action themselves. It’s our responsibility to petition the government for an end to the spying, to protest when our petitions are ignored (President Obama has responded to a petition regarding elections in Malaysia, but has broken his pledge to respond to any WhiteHouse.gov petition that reaches 100,000 signatures, completely ignoring a popular petition to pardon Edward Snowden), and to oppose the re-election of any politician in the federal government, Democrat or Republican, who fails to take a stand against the NSA abuses.
This October 26, you will have the opportunity to join in a national protest against the Big Brother surveillance network that is centered at the NSA. The Stop Watching Us network of activist organizations is organizing a protest on October 26, in Washington D.C., against our government’s unconstitutional spying against us. As of today, over a half a million Americans have signed their names to a pledge to participate in the protest.
The goal of the protest, according to a document drafted by organizations backing the event, is “to leverage our combined networks in a way that both enables and motivates people to engage in sustained, effective activism opposing NSA surveillance going forward. This particular weekend is designed to prove to members of Congress that their constituents are beginning to undertake a long term campaign with high bar engagement if need be.”
Organizations involved so far include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Free Press, the American Civil Liberties Union, Demand Progress, Fight For The Future, Restore The Fourth, Public Knowledge and Media Alliance.
Will you be there?