Target: U.S. Representative Rush Holt
Goal: Commend and support Representative Holt’s proposed bill to dismantle the federal surveillance state
Federal intelligence agencies have far-reaching powers that allow them to seize and search private civilian information that is sent or stored electronically. Although such activity is specifically barred by the U.S. Constitution, a number of federal bills grant these agencies the legal authority to do so anyway. Bills like the Patriot Act of 2001, and recent amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, allow the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and all federal law enforcement to use private data from American civilians to look for and prosecute criminal activity.
Exactly how amassing our citizens’ private data leads to improved law enforcement has never been made clear, but leaders of both the Democrat and Republican parties have adamantly pushed for more government surveillance powers in recent years. The most disturbing part of this situation is that these intelligence agencies were already invading our privacy even before Congress gave them approval to do so. The retroactive legalization of this activity does not excuse these violations of the law; and in any case it still remains unconstitutional.
Luckily for us, U.S. Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey has introduced a bill, H.R. 2818, or the Surveillance State Repeal Act, that would dismantle the surveillance powers of government intelligence agencies, and would only allow private data collection with special permission in cases of obvious threats to national security, such as the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. This bill would further make it illegal for the government to request access to private information through any electronic information service providers, without special permission for a specific purpose. Sign the petition to thank Representative Holt for standing up for our rights, and to show support for this bill.
Dear Representative Holt,
The American people are very concerned about the collection of our private data by federal intelligence agencies. Despite bills like the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, the fact remains that government search and seizure of private information is unconstitutional, and therefore a violation of our fundamental rights as citizens. We would like to thank you for taking action against this violation of our rights with your proposed bill, H.R. 2818, the Surveillance State Repeal Act.
H.R. 2818 goes a long way to protect the rights of American citizens. For too long the federal government has exploited the nation’s fears by exchanging our liberty for promises of security. It is increasingly clear that we are no more secure for this sacrifice, and that far from protecting us against terrorism, our own government now poses an equally dangerous threat to the American way of life. We wish you the best of luck in passing H.R. 2818, and hope that you will continue to fight for the rights of your citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Asia Society | Partnership for Global Learning via Flickr