Tuesday, June 11, 2013
86 Organizations Petition Congress to Counter Unconstitutional Surveillance Letter Demands Patriot Act Reform of Section 215, Congressional Hearings and Accountability A letter signed by 86 public interest and civil liberties organizations was delivered to Congress this morning, in the wake of a week of explosive reports in the UK Guardian and the Washington Post from former Booz Allen NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The reports detailed several government programs, including one that provides access to metadata for telephone calls and another that provides warrantless access to online activities culled from the servers of nine leading Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. The letter states: "This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the 1st and 4th amendments of the US Constitution". The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution reads as follows: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, 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". Media Alliance director Tracy Rosenberg comments: "These programs are what the US Constitution was written to prevent". The 86 organizations are demanding: Immediate reform of Section 215 of the US Patriot Act, state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to clarify that blanket surveillance of any individual residing in the United States is unconsttiutional and the ability to have violations reviewed by a public court. Congressional hearings to investigate and report on the full extent of current surveillance programs which will recommend specific legal and regulatory reforms to end unconstitutional surveillance Accountability for public officials found to have authorized or engaged in unconstitutional surveillance activities.