All political stripes protest NSA spying
WASHINGTON — Protesters marched on Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday to protest the government's online surveillance programs, whose vast scope was revealed this year by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
People carried signs reading: “Stop Mass Spying,” “Thank you, Edward Snowden” and “Unplug Big Brother” as they gathered at the foot of the Capitol to demonstrate against the online surveillance by the National Security Agency.
Estimates varied on the size of the march, with organizers saying more than 2,000 attended. U.S. Capitol Police said they do not typically provide estimates on the size of demonstrations.
The march attracted protesters from both ends of the political spectrum as liberal privacy advocates walked alongside members of the conservative Tea Party movement in opposition to what they say is unlawful government spying on Americans.
“I consider myself a conservative, and no conservative wants their government collecting information on them and storing it and using it,” said Michael Greene, one of the protesters.
“Over the past several months, we have learned so much about the abuses (of privacy) that are going on and the complete lack of oversight and the mass surveillance into every detail of our lives. And we need to tell Congress that they have to act,” said another protester, Jennifer Wynne.
The event was organized by a coalition known as Stop Watching Us that consists of about 100 public advocacy groups and companies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, Occupy Wall Street NYC and the Libertarian Party.
The groups have been urging Congress to reform the legal framework supporting the NSA's secretive online data gathering since Snowden's disclosure of classified information about the programs that are designed to gather intelligence about potential foreign threats.
The Obama administration and many lawmakers have defended the NSA programs as crucial in protecting national security and helping thwart past militant plots. They have said the programs are carefully overseen by Congress and the courts.
Snowden's disclosures have raised concerns that NSA surveillance may span not just foreign, but domestic online and phone communication.
“We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs,” Stop Watching Us said in a letter addressed to members of Congress posted online, calling for a reform of the law known as the Patriot Act.
That law marked its 12th anniversary on Saturday. It was passed in 2001 to improve anti-terrorism efforts and is under scrutiny by privacy advocates who say it allows “dragnet” data gathering.
“Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong,” Snowden said in a statement before the rally. Wanted in the United States on espionage charges, he is in temporary asylum in Russia.
His latest disclosures showed that the United States may have tapped the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding to the growing outrage against data-gathering practices abroad.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big Bang ‘waves’ go poof under analysis
- Accused Kennedy killer’s casket must go to brother, judge rules
- States have marked drop in juvenile prison populations
- Deportation relief applications for illegal immigrants available soon
- Internet rules in line for big shift
- Drivers, return to your car dealers for 2nd airbag fix
- Secretary of State Kerry says Cuba talks offer chance to improve lives
- ‘Drink of the Devil’ unites formerly feuding families
- Brooklyn warehouse goes up in smoke
- Hillary Clinton’s charter jet costs scrutinized
- Balloonists smash records with trans-Pacific flight