March 2015, Vol. 14 No. 3
Getting in front of Congress
This spring, Congress will again consider mass surveillance, as three provisions of the infamous PATRIOT Act are scheduled to expire in June. Rather than defer to a previously limited debate, BORDC has been working hard—both in Washington and around the country— to expand it.
This month, Reps. Mark Massie (R-KY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) reintroduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act (SSRA), HR 1466. The SSRA would repeal the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, overhauling domestic surveillance by the NSA and other federal agencies to restore transparency, checks and balances, and the Fourth Amendment in the face of a pervasive spying dragnet that continues to offend each of those principles.
Last week, BORDC Executive Director Shahid Buttar spoke on a bipartisan panel to brief members of Congress and their aides about the SSRA and why aggressive reforms to dramatically curtail intelligence powers are appropriate and necessary. He also addressed the legal basis for mass surveillance, forgotten recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the implications of continuing executive secrecy and obfuscation, and the history of congressional oversight failures and bipartisan executive evasions underlying the constitutional crisis.
One issue Buttar did not discuss in the House was his recent arrest in the Senate for asking tough questions about institutional corruption that Senators have been too timid to raise. In the wake of a subsequent decision to drop all charges, Buttar plans to seek an injunction to stop Capitol Police from arresting people asking questions before or after congressional hearings, based on First Amendment rights including the freedom of the press.
In an op-ed published by The Hill, Buttar reminds Congress that members unfortunately remain in the dark about a great many facts that they are entitled to know, and responsible for discovering:
How vast are government surveillance programs? Have they actually helped protect national security, or just the job security of the officials who have repeatedly lied to protect their powers and budgets? Is mass surveillance even constitutionally permissible in the first place, given our Founders’ multiple attempts to restrain executive power run amok?
Read the latest news and analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution
The People’s Blog for the Constitution features news and analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, and offers an easy way to stay up-to-date and informed.
- Passage of the Surveillance State Real Act discussed by panel of experts by Paul Lyons
To get involved in any of these campaigns, please email the BORDC Organizing Team. We are eager to hear from you and help support your activism.
- Regaining justice in New York City
- Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network fights Islamophobia
- Chigago, IL, protestors speak out against police brutality
- County official in Madison, WI forfeits keys for letting protesters in after Tony Robinson shooting
- St. Louis, MO, People’s Movement Assmebly organized by Organization for Black Struggle
- Portland, OR’s, City Council adds two officers to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force
- Polce reponse to Black Lies Matter protest in Berkeley, CA, debated
- Oakland CA‘s, concert to Restore the Fourth
- Join CODEPINK’s march on the US Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, CA
BORDC in the news
BORDC promotes concerns about the contitutional crisis—and grassroots activism challenging the national security state— through media such asTwitter and Facebook, as well as traditional media including print, online, radio, and television. Check out our latest appearances:
- March 16: BORDC Executive Director Shahid Buttar appeared on Black Agenda Report to discuss allies in the fight to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act
- March 24: The Hill covered a briefing on the SSRA on which BORDC’s Shahid Buttar spoke
- March 24: ThinkProgress covered a briefing on the SSRA on which BORDC’s Shahid Buttar spoke
- March 24: CATO covered a briefing on the SSRA on which BORDC’s Shahid Buttar spoke
- March 24: The Christian Science Monitor covered a briefing on the SSRAon which BORDC’s Shahid Buttar spoke
- March 24: US News & World Report covered a briefing on the SSRA on which BORDC’s Shahid Buttar spoke
- March 25: The Hill published an analysis by BORDC’s Shahid Buttar
- March 26: TruthOut published an op-ed, A Window into Congressional Oversight, in which Shahid Buttar’s arrest was covered.
New Resources and Opportunities
To help encourage outreach, public education, and grassroots mobilization, BORDC has provided microgrants to grassroots coalitions pursuing local campaigns to advance civil rights and civil liberties. Grants up to $500 are available to help active coalitions expand their local visibility, and/or host events. To apply for a grant, people email theBORDC Organizing Team.