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Whistleblower Mark Klein: Oppose the USA Freedom Act

Note: Whistleblower Mark Klein has signed our letter opposing the current version of the USA FREEDOM Act. Please add your name to our letter to congress.

AT&T Whistleblower Mark Klein

AT&T Whistleblower Mark Klein

I support the letter calling on Congress to reject Senator Leahy’s so-called USA Freedom Act. The bill is a fraud, a pretense at “reform” which leaves in place all the main elements of the NSA’s surveillance program. (Needless to say, Senator Feinstein’s alternative bill is even worse.) The bill tinkers around the edges of the phone call records collection while leaving untouched the meat of the “program,” the vast, unconstitutional dragnet collection of internet data which I helped expose. To top it off, the bill now includes the renewal of the Patriot Act, thereby institutionalizing the entire monstrous apparatus.

It’s no wonder that James Clapper, the current Director of National Intelligence who lied to Congress about what the NSA was doing, has now endorsed the Leahy bill–evidently he feels no threat from it, and that should be a warning to all who defend civil liberties.

The “president’s program,” as it was called under Bush, has now been in place, with some changes, for over 12 years. It has been eight years since I went public with my evidence in 2006, and in that time Congress has twice (in 2007 and 2008) passed so-called “FISA reform” bills which actually strengthened and legalized the NSA’s surveillance apparatus. Parallel to that, the judiciary has carefully avoided fundamentally challenging the executive’s program (with some notable but impotent exceptions). What’s more, many of the key political players who passed those bills are still in power (e.g., president Barack Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican leader John Boehner, etc.) not to mention the top bureaucrats of the NSA who have escaped any punishment.

The only reason Congress now goes through the motions of another “reform” is because of the damning revelations made by Edward Snowden in 2013 which shocked millions of people. Yet the political leaders have denounced Snowden as a “traitor” and want to prosecute him under the Espionage Act (as they’ve done to other brave whistleblowers like Thomas Drake), instead of welcoming him home as a hero.

So one must conclude that the present political institutions led by the two parties are inextricably entwined systemically with the interests of the “national security state” which threatens our civil liberties. It is futile, in my view, to attempt to rein in the NSA by clever legal wording in a reform bill written by these parties. In any case, they have made it clear that when it suits their desires they will ignore the law, as they have many times in recent years.

Fundamental change in the interests of the vast majority of working people, in this issue as in all the others, now requires casting aside these two parties who represent no one but a tiny, rich elite.

Mark Klein is a former AT&T technician who blew the whistle on the company’s cooperation with the NSA to spy on Americans in 2006.

CommunityFDL Action

Whistleblower Mark Klein: Oppose the USA Freedom Act

Note: Whistleblower Mark Klein has signed our letter opposing the current version of the USA FREEDOM Act. Please add your name to our letter to congress.

AT&T Whistleblower Mark Klein

AT&T Whistleblower Mark Klein

I support the letter calling on Congress to reject Senator Leahy’s so-called USA Freedom Act. The bill is a fraud, a pretense at “reform” which leaves in place all the main elements of the NSA’s surveillance program. (Needless to say, Senator Feinstein’s alternative bill is even worse.) The bill tinkers around the edges of the phone call records collection while leaving untouched the meat of the “program,” the vast, unconstitutional dragnet collection of internet data which I helped expose. To top it off, the bill now includes the renewal of the Patriot Act, thereby institutionalizing the entire monstrous apparatus.

It’s no wonder that James Clapper, the current Director of National Intelligence who lied to Congress about what the NSA was doing, has now endorsed the Leahy bill–evidently he feels no threat from it, and that should be a warning to all who defend civil liberties.

The “president’s program,” as it was called under Bush, has now been in place, with some changes, for over 12 years. It has been eight years since I went public with my evidence in 2006, and in that time Congress has twice (in 2007 and 2008) passed so-called “FISA reform” bills which actually strengthened and legalized the NSA’s surveillance apparatus. Parallel to that, the judiciary has carefully avoided fundamentally challenging the executive’s program (with some notable but impotent exceptions). What’s more, many of the key political players who passed those bills are still in power (e.g., president Barack Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican leader John Boehner, etc.) not to mention the top bureaucrats of the NSA who have escaped any punishment.

The only reason Congress now goes through the motions of another “reform” is because of the damning revelations made by Edward Snowden in 2013 which shocked millions of people. Yet the political leaders have denounced Snowden as a “traitor” and want to prosecute him under the Espionage Act (as they’ve done to other brave whistleblowers like Thomas Drake), instead of welcoming him home as a hero.

So one must conclude that the present political institutions led by the two parties are inextricably entwined systemically with the interests of the “national security state” which threatens our civil liberties. It is futile, in my view, to attempt to rein in the NSA by clever legal wording in a reform bill written by these parties. In any case, they have made it clear that when it suits their desires they will ignore the law, as they have many times in recent years.

Fundamental change in the interests of the vast majority of working people, in this issue as in all the others, now requires casting aside these two parties who represent no one but a tiny, rich elite.

Mark Klein is a former AT&T technician who blew the whistle on the company’s cooperation with the NSA to spy on Americans in 2006.

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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.