The Fight for The Fourth Amendment Continues in Rochester

Stop Watching

This is a bit late, but there was an important local development in the Restore the Fourth Fight in Rochester.  On September 26th, 2013 members of the Rochester City Council signed a letter to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand expressing concern about the “breadth of information gathering occurring, the secrecy of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and the demonstrated lack of oversight and adherence to protocol in the monitoring of electronic and telephonic communications.” The letter concludes that it is “imperative to review and revisit the policies and actions of the Justice Department and the scope of the Patriot Act prior to potential reauthorization in 2015.”

Rochester Restore the Fourth activist Dan Cole attended the August 13th Rochester City Council meeting to deliver a speech asking for a non-binding resolution opposing NSA spying. He didn’t expect to get such an overwhelmingly positive response from the Council with a unanimous letter of support. It isn’t too often that I’m happy with what my city council does, but this is a happy exception.

Fighting against the illegal surveillance state continues around the United States as more and more secrets emerge from Edward Snowden’s leaked documents. The American people have been lied to and given only weak justifications for destroying our civil liberties. That was from California Senator Dianne Feinstein. Here is a weak explanation for why our own Congresswoman Louise Slaughter refuses to defund illegal NSA activities.

The NSA broke their own rules on protecting privacy thousands of times, but perhaps we should expect that and have other groups perform stringent oversight. Unfortunately, not only has Congress been derelict in its oversight duties, the FISA Court has been an utter failure in keeping the NSA honest and accountable. The FISC was unaware how much domestic surveillance the NSA was conducting. Furthermore, nearly all Federal Law police agencies are in cahoots; they all want a piece of that sweet big data.

Edward Snowden
NSA Whistle Blower Edward Snowden

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who helped Edward Snowden release this information, recently said, “The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.” Great. It might get worse.

The entire scandal is not only a dangerous affair for the apparent violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, but also for the inevitable blackmail and perversion of our republican form of government: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) makes a strong case that this may already be happening.

The Rochester City Council letter will probably not change the minds of the decision makers in Congress who are more than willing to sell out our Constitutional rights. Privacy advocates still need to fight hard to restore civil liberties at all levels of government. None the less, this letter was an important symbolic victory for the local Restore the Fourth movement and for Fourth Amendment rights in the City of Rochester.

Rochester City Hall
Rochester City Hall

If only the Rochester City Council were as critical of the Rochester Police as they are of the Feds. They have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to administrative warrants that violate the Fourth Amendment rights of renters and with codifying abusive police practices that target and abuse people who have done nothing wrong.

Unfortunately, the local media failed to report the city council letter. The only coverage this received was from Restore the Fourth National, which did a story on Dan and the Rochester Restore the Fourth movement in their blog.

The fight against illegal NSA spying goes on as privacy activists rev up for a huge rally on the anniversary of the Patriot Act on October 26th.  Restore the Fourth will join groups like the ACLU, the Libertarian Party, EFF, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and more in Washington, DC to continue their advocacy for a surveillance state with Constitutional limits at the Stop Watching Us Rally. Don’t let partisan politics divide us on this important issue! Restore the Fourth is a beautiful thing. Let’s stand united for privacy. Take the opportunity to support this movement and restore your Constitutional rights!

Links:

City Council Letter

RT4th blog

Rochester Restore the Fourth Facebook page

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