Saturday, October 11, 2008

Big Brother Listening to Your Telephone Call

Two former military intercept operators -- the people at the National Security Agency (NSA) who actually listen in to people’s calls --have come forth to say that surveillance programs, previously touted as critical to protect national security, have in fact been used to monitor the private communications of innocent Americans abroad, including humanitarian workers and U.S. service-members. The NSA even intentionally directed its surveillance powers at well-established humanitarian organizations like Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross.

Contrary to direct assurances from Bush administration officials that NSA monitoring was directed at suspected terrorists, the intercept operators report that "hundreds of U.S. citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they call friends and family back home." It is outrageous that service men and women and international aid workers have had their private conversations needlessly and wantonly invaded by our government.

That is why the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Congress’s expansion of the NSA’s surveillance authority under the FISA Amendments Act is so critical. The case, Amnesty International v. McConnell -- brought on behalf of an impressive array of journalists, human rights organizations and lawyers -- shines a spotlight on the devastating effect of unchecked spying power on Americans doing indispensable work around the globe.

The NSA’s new unchecked surveillance powers invade the privacy of innocent Americans and fundamentally undermine human rights workers, journalists and attorneys doing important work around the globe. This dragnet spying is ineffective, intrusive, unnecessary and most certainly unconstitutional.

To learn more about the ACLU lawsuit challenging unconstitutional spying, visit the website of the ACLU.

When I was a teenager, we used to joke about Big Brother (government) interfering in our lives. We saw the FBI at anti-war rallies taking pictures and names. We thought that certain people had federal files with unknown agencies. We suspected that unlawful wiretapping and bugging of homes and offices took place. Never in our most paranoid scenarios could we imagine what is happening now. If you value your freedom, please learn the facts about this lawsuit and, if you disagree with governmental policy, let your opinion be known.

Free speech and the right to privacy are fundamental to our freedom. Stand up for them.

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