The PATRIOT Act does not keep Americans safe from terrorism. Instead, the PATRIOT Act has been used by our government to illegally spy on the phone calls, text messages, and Internet browsing history of millions of ordinary Americans just like me and you. That’s not right. Congress is debating whether or not to renew the PATRIOT Act right now, so contact your lawmakers and tell them: “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 this spying failed to prevent even a single terrorist attack.
But that didn’t stop the government from continuing to spy on us. In fact, they’re spying on us more than ever right now. And they’re still lying about terrorism to justify 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 Lindsey Graham (R–SC) recently lied about terrorists trying to blow up Hoover Dam in an effort to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. President Trump lied about antifascist protesters being terrorists. Meanwhile, political leaders and law enforcement officials all over the nation are lying about local protests being “false flag” operations connected to terrorist groups.
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
All of these lies are used to justify more and more spying against people who are exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights. The US Customs and Border Patrol flew a Predator drone over Minneapolis to spy on protesters. The governor of Minnesota said that the NSA was providing “intelligence support” to law enforcement officials before walking back his statements. The US Military is monitoring protests in at least seven states. Police departments across the nation are using technical devices like stingrays to spy on protesters’ phone calls, text messages, and other digital communications. The FBI has interrogated people in New York and Tennessee interrogated about their political beliefs and their involvement in protest activities.
Do you see how the fear of terrorism is being used to justify acts of physical violence against people all over America? Do you see how the lies of powerful people are hurting 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 Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) 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 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.
Contact Congress to demand that your lawmakers reject the PATRIOT Act reauthorization and stop spying on the public.