The Trump Administration has been spying on the digital communications of Black Lives Matter protesters, journalists, and millions of Americans just like me and you. By labeling political activists “terrorists,” the government uses the PATRIOT Act to justify their invasive — and unconstitutional — surveillance. Congress is debating whether or not to renew the PATRIOT Act right now. Fill out the form below to tell your lawmakers: "Vote no on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act and reject any attempt to spy on people in America without a warrant ."
For years, government officials told the public that the PATRIOT Act was an important law that helped America’s intelligence agencies fight dangerous terrorists overseas. But they were lying to us. They were even lying to Congress. In reality, the PATRIOT Act was being used to secretly spy on hundreds of millions of people across the country. Telephone calls, text messages, internet activity … nearly every kind of digital communication was being collected.
Thankfully, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden exposed the government’s secret surveillance programs to the public. The astonishing information he revealed led US courts to declare that much of the data collection being performed under the PATRIOT Act was illegal, and even unconstitutional. And when the government’s own internal oversight boards investigated these secret surveillance programs, they discovered that all of this spying never prevented a single terrorist attack. Not a single one!
But that didn’t stop the government from continuing to spy on us. Right now, they’re spying on us more than ever. And they’re still lying about terrorism to justify very serious human rights abuses.
Under the Trump Administration, the FBI has lied about racial justice protesters in America being connected to terrorists in the Middle East in order to justify spying on them. Senator Lyndsey Graham (R–SC) recently lied about terrorists trying to blow up Hoover Dam in an effort to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. The President himself lied about antifascist protesters being terrorists. He even lied about a 75 year-old victim of police brutality being part of some imaginary antifascist “false flag” operation. In fact, political leaders and law enforcement officials all over the nation have lied about local protests being organized by outside forces.
Here's the absolutely insane OAN report that Trump is referencing: "The latest tensions in the Buffalo police department could be the result of a false flag provocation by far left group antifa" pic.twitter.com/d709XfSj8U— Lis Power (@LisPower1) June 9, 2020
Don't dismiss these lies as harmless, little white lies. These are big lies. These are important lies. These lies are being used to justify surveillance and violence against people who are doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights. The governor of Minnesota said that the NSA was providing "intelligence support" to law enforcement officials. He eventually walked back his statement, but it certainly seems like he was telling the truth. After all, US Customs and Border Patrol flew a Predator drone over Minneapolis to spy on protesters, the US military is monitoring protests, and police departments across the nation are spying on protesters’ phone calls, text messages, and other digital communications. The FBI interrogated one man about his political beliefs, asking him who was “hijacking” local protest movements.
Do you see how the fear of terrorism is being used as an excuse to trample our free speech and right to assembly? Do you see how the lies of powerful people are physically hurting vulnerable people in our communities? The PATRIOT Act was never actually about keeping the public safe or upholding law and order. It was always about one thing: control. And that’s exactly why it’s being used today.
Privacy hawks on both sides of the aisle have tried to amend the PATRIOT Act to prevent the government from collecting information about what websites you visit and what YouTube videos you watch without getting a warrant. But powerful politicians — like Mitch McConnell (R–SC) in the Senate and Adam Schiff (D-CA) in the House of Representatives — have done everything they can to destroy these efforts at reform, and allow invasive government surveillance to continue.
Yeah that’s gonna be a no from me dog https://t.co/O6t8h6zkgs— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 18, 2019
Many in Congress are fed up with the continued lies and obfuscations being used to hurt the people they represent. But they are afraid that they may lose the upcoming election if they look “weak” on terrorism for opposing reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. When they see millions of people like you and me protesting, and when they receive emails and phone calls from millions of voters about this issue, it gives them the political cover they need to stand up to authoritarians.
So keep protesting. It's your right to do so. Contact Congress to demand that your lawmakers reject the PATRIOT Act reauthorization. Together, we can save Internet privacy, and stop the government from spying on us.