Anti-NSA Rally Hopes To BringThousands in Washington

1:27 PM, Oct 26, 2013   |    comments
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Photo: USA Today

Bart Jansen and Carolyn Pesce, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- Organizers against NSA surveillance hope to rally thousands of protesters Saturday to march on the Capitol in a call for closer scrutiny of the agency as more details of its spying are leaked.

Several hundred people had gathered for the march by noon holding signs that said "Stop mass surveillance," "Thank you, Edward Snowden" and "No NSA mass spying."

Stop Watching Us organized the march and is a diverse coalition of more than 100 public advocacy groups aiming to deliver a petition to Congress on Saturday calling for an end to mass surveillance of the National Security Agency. The group includes civil liberties watchdogs like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and more broad-based groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Koch brothers' FreedomWorks and Occupy Wall Street-NYC, according to a press release.

The NSA spying controversy has been growing amid new revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. monitored the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was the latest in revelations of spying on foreign countries - leaders of France and Italy have protested NSA surveillance as well as Brazil's president, who has canceled a visit to the U.S.

Germany is sending an intelligence team to Washington to discuss the issue. On Friday, the prime minister of Spain announced plans to call in the U.S.ambassador to discuss surveillance.

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, one of the grass-roots groups that helped organize the event, said the goal is to put a face to opposition to surveillance.

Members have been lobbying this week for legislation to curb surveillance after a near-miss in July, with a 205-217 loss in the House, for a provision to block bulk collection of data such as phone records. The provision was sponsored by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who is scheduled to speak to protesters on the National Mall.

Other legislation is expected next week from Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., Segal said Saturday: "I think that what the NSA has been doing is so transparently egregious that we have a real shot at winning this fight."

Dave Miller of Bloomfield, N.Y., near Rochester, held a sign saying "What part of 'shall not' don't you understand?" At 56, he was attending his first political rally because of his concerns about surveillance.

"The natural progression is more control, more power," Miller said. "No matter what they say, we're going down the path toward tyranny."

Miller wore a dark-blue windbreaker with "U.S. Citizen" in yellow letters to mimic FBI jackets and send the message that citizens are in charge of the country. He brought enough jackets to sell.

"I just decided I was going to get off my duff and do something," said Miller, an unemployed engineer. "It's to demand respect from authority."

Holmes Wilson of Worcester, Mass., and a founder of the grass-roots group Fight for the Future, wore tape across his mouth and held a walking banner that said "Spying is censorship."

"I'm terrified by the ability the U.S. has to do surveillance here and all over the world," Wilson said, referring to the NSA gathering information from people's phones and e-mail. "They know who we associate with and where we are at any given time. It's only getting worse."

USA Today

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