Twelve years after Americans were stripped of their rights in the name of fighting terrorism, thousands have gathered in Washington DC to protest unconstitutional NSA spying programs revealed by Edward Snowden, and call for repeal of the Patriot Act.
Stop Watching Us campaign demands reform of “Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the US is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court.”
Protesters also demand the creation of an investigative committee charged with reporting the extent of domestic spying and enact regulatory reform. Organizers also want to hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for “unconstitutional surveillance.”
“The government has granted itself power that it does not have,” said Johnson. “We have to stand against this.”
“Our own government has become a threat to freedom, at home and abroad,” said former Congressman, Dennis Kucinich.
Whistleblower Thomas Drake in addressing the crowd said that he was fortunate not end up in prison. “The last thing a free and open society needs is a digital fence around us,” Drake said. He called for the restoration of the Fourth Amendment and said that NSA surveillance “engenders fear and erodes our freedom.”
Two days before the march the US Department of Defense published a YouTube interview with NSA Director and CYCOM Commander General Keith Alexander trying to justify the agency’s programs. So far less than 2 percent of viewers agree with Alexander’s reasoning for the need for total surveillance and spying on own citizens to protect national security.
A day after the release, the website for the US National Security Agency suddenly went offline in what some claimed was an Anonymous DDoS attack. Twelve hours later the NSA however said it was due to a technical problem during a routine software update, denying it was under attack.
The Edward Snowden leaks have exposed that NSA not only spied on public records but also on data mined from personal communications of world leaders, including Latin American presidents and European leaders – even those who are considered to be US allies, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was on NSA spy list since 2002, according to latest revelations.
The Stop Watching Us rally comes as twenty-one countries, including US allies France and Mexico, have joined talks to hammer out a UN resolution that would condemn “indiscriminate” and “extra-territorial” surveillance, and ensure “independent oversight” of electronic monitoring.
Other countries involved in the talks reportedly include Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Paraguay, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.