News Release

Left and Right Team Up to Opposing “Patriot Act” Extension

National Journal reports this morning: “A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records is illegal, dealing a startling blow to the program just as Congress is weighing reforms to surveillance authorities.”

A host of groups and government surveillance whistleblowers have signed a letter stating:

“In the two years since Edward Snowden began disclosing proof of mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans and the rest of the world, surveillance proponents have had ample opportunity to provide proof of its efficacy, legality, and its necessity. They have failed to do so on every front. Instead, they have systematically misled both the public and Congress.

“Under incredible public pressure, the White House and surveillance agencies have telegraphed acquiescence to minimal reforms in exchange for extension of Section 215 via legislation that would also eviscerate numerous court challenges to lawless surveillance and provide for legal immunization and compensation of companies that provide the government with customers’ private information, even where that company knows it is unlawful.

“The sacrifices made by the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 are unacceptable. The modest changes within this bill, in turn, fail to reform mass surveillance, of Americans and others, conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and Executive Order 12333. Given intelligence agencies’eagerness to subvert any attempts by Congress to rein in massive surveillance programs by changing the legal authorities under which they operate, the modest, proposed changes are no reform at all.

“Section 215 was designed to sunset, and it is well past time that it did so. A vote for USA FREEDOM Act does too little to reform surveillance, and it does so at too great an expense. A vote against it, and against any law that reauthorizes Section 215, is the best step toward ending mass surveillance of Americans. We urge you to pursue such a path in defense of American civil liberties.”

Among the signers:

DAVID SEGAL, david at demandprogress.org, also via Mark Stanley, mark at demandprogress.org, @demandprogress
Segal is with the group Demand Progress, a “grassroots organization with 2 million affiliated activists who fight for Internet freedom, civil liberties, and government transparency and reform.”

NORM SINGLETON, norm.singleton at campaignforliberty.com, @C4Liberty
Singelton is with Campaign for Liberty, which works to “reclaim the republic and restore the Constitution.” USA Today reportedWednesday:  “A debate over the USA Patriot Act is spotlighting a split between security hawks and privacy advocates within the Republican congressional majority, and analysts say the privacy faction appears to have the upper hand.

See Singleton’s piece “What did the USA FREEDOM Act Mark-Up have in common with WrestleMania?” and other related articles here.