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