“Van Hollen wrong on NSA” petition drive continues at Takoma Park Folk Festival

MCCRC activists Sue Udry and Martine Zee explain the NSA and the Fourth Amendment to kids. Click the image for more photos from the Folk Festival.

“Help stop the NSA!  We’re unhappy that Chris Van Hollen missed a huge opportunity to do just that earlier this summer.”

MCCRC activists collected over 80 signatures for our “Van Hollen, Delaney: Wrong on NSA” petition at the Takoma Park Folk Festival on Sunday, and distributed hundreds of leaflets about the issue.

We also had a blast on a beautiful day, talking with festival-goers, including quite a number of kids.

Not surprisingly, reception for the petition was mostly positive and strong, with many expressing surprise and disappointment that Chris Van Hollen (and upcounty Representative Delaney) voted against the Amash-Conyers defense appropriations amendment earlier this summer.  The amendment would have clarified that even the FISA Amendment Act* does not provide the authority to conduct the kind of sweeping, warrantless, suspicionless metadata surveillance that whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed the NSA to be conducting.

Supporters of the amendment included ACLU, BORDC, CDT, Defending Dissent, EFF, EPIC,  and many other civil liberties advocacy groups.  The narrow, 12 vote defeat meant that if only seven Representatives like Chris Van Hollen and John Delaney had switched their votes, the amendment would have passed.  Locally, a broad coalition of progressive groups including Progressive Neighbors, Montgomery County Young Democrats, Peace Action Montgomery and many others have co-signed a letter expressing “profound disappointment” with Van Hollen and Delaney for their votes.

Thomas Nephew displays petition

The day’s petitioning brought our total to over 150 signatures.  We’d like to have more for our meeting with Representative Van Hollen, so please join the petition online at http://tinyurl.com/vhjdwrongonnsa.  And please forward it and/or this blog post to your friends in Montgomery County or the 6th and 8th Maryland Congressional districts and urge them to join in.

The petition says that signers expect Van Hollen and Delaney to honor our constitutional rights by

1. Co-sponsoring and voting for legislation to prohibit bulk collection of our communications metadata under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, or any other authority, to clearly bar use of these statutes for prospective surveillance, and to enable review of violations in adversarial proceedings before a public court.

2. Co-sponsoring and voting for legislation that will incorporate more rigorous safeguards in Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act to prohibit the warrantless collection of the content of communications by, and metadata concerning U.S. persons or people inside the United States, and to enable review of violations in adversarial proceedings before a public court.

3. Co-sponsoring and voting for legislation requiring executive agencies to report the total number of requests made to communications companies for user data and content, including what specific authorities are being used, what types of data, and the number of individuals affected by each request.

4. Co-sponsoring and voting for legislation establishing a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should also create additional specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance, and should investigate those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance, and/or for misleading Congress about it.

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*EDIT, 9/9: FISA Amendment Act, not the PATRIOT Act.

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