Congress is debating a bill to extend the power to spy on Americans – without a warrant – to Trump, the NSA, and the FBI. It must be fundamentally fixed or stopped dead.
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Here's our petition to Congress:
We urge Congress to significantly improve the so-called “USA Liberty Act,” H.R. 3989, or support strong surveillance reform legislation if wholesale improvements are not forthcoming. As introduced, this bill would extend Section 702, enabling the Trump administration to continue spying on Americans without a warrant.
The strong language we support is contained in the USA RIGHTS Act, sponsored by Sens. Paul and Wyden, which ends backdoor searches, permanently bans “about” collection, and guarantees that surveillance information cannot be secretly used in court against defendants. Without these reforms to protect our privacy and civil liberties, Section 702 must expire.
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In an end run around the Constitution, spy agencies have warped Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act into a way to unconstitutionally snoop on Americans.
Spy agencies like the NSA have claimed this authority allows them to scan through and collect the emails and phone calls of innocent Americans. Then, the government routinely does “backdoor searches” of this information, where they may look up information about U.S. persons, even for reasons completely unrelated to intelligence gathering.
It’s the same law the NSA claims justified the scandalous programs uncovered by Edward Snowden, like the PRISM program, which forces tech companies to turn over data on their servers, and Upstream collection, which automatically searches all internet traffic that crosses tapped lines connecting the U.S. with the rest of the world.
Flying in the face of the Fourth Amendment, the government searches this information specifically for Americans at least tens of thousands of times a year without a warrant, without evidence of a crime, and without independent oversight.
We have a chance to put an end to these violations of our rights and threats to self-governance. Click here.
Even before an authoritarian like Trump took power, the spying powers on the books have been abused consistently. The government has shown a persistent inability to follow rules that are supposed to protect Americans. Judges on the FISA Court have called the violations “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue” and complained of “an institutional ‘lack of candor’” from the spy agencies.
Surveillance powers have been turned against activists and people of color in the past, from the FBI’s intimidation campaign against Martin Luther King Jr. to recent infiltration of Muslim student associations on college campuses. With Trump’s clear authoritarian impulses and tendency to target vulnerable populations, Congress extending these spying powers to Trump would be catastrophic.
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-- The RootsAction.org Team
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.