NSA Opponents Will Picket Congress on Patriot Act's Birthday

hands-off-my-metadataOrganizers believe Saturday rally will be the largest ever against domestic surveillance

By Steven Nelson, U.S. News and World Report

A diverse group will gather near the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to denounce the government's dragnet phone and Internet surveillance programs revealed in June by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The date is the 12th anniversary of President George W. Bush signing into law the USA Patriot Act, which with approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowed years of hushed data collection by the National Security Agency.

"We're expecting this to be the largest privacy-related rally -- potentially -- in U.S. history," said Evan Greer, campaign manager of Fight for the Future, an Internet policy group that's helping organize the event. "We are expecting thousands of people to come out to D.C. The rally has been endorsed by over a hundred organizations, from the far left to the far right."

Among the event sponsors are the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, social news website Reddit, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress and Students for Liberty.

"It's exciting to see so many different groups coming together ... groups that normally never would be sitting in the same room or at the same rally are working together on this issue," Greer said. "This is an incredibly politically diverse coalition uniting around the issue of government surveillance and recognizing the threat that it poses to our most basic rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of expression and privacy."

Rally participants will gather near Union Station at noon before walking a short distance to the reflecting pool in front of Congress. The musical group YACHT will provide live entertainment and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake, former Gov. Gary Johnson, R-N.M., and author Naomi Wolf will give speeches. (Read more)