Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Speech at 99% Coalition Anti-Syria-Intervention Anti-Surveillance Anti-Pelosi Rally

I gave something approximate to this text as a speech at the Nancy Pelosi; Stop NSA's spying on US! rally.

Hello, my name is Danny and I'm with Restore the Fourth.

Let me try and connect the two issues we are here to talk about today, Syria and surveillance. I happened to visit Syria in 2006, before the start of the civil war. I saw many of Syria's treasures, some of which are being destroyed today, such as the Muslim Citadel in Aleppo, the Krak de Chevaliers in the countryside, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. But I also saw, in an imperfect way, the poor state of political freedom in the country -- there seemed to be a member of the police or secret police on nearly every city block.

Now I think it is fair to say that pre-civil war Syria was an authoritarian state; a police state where political freedoms were severely curtailed. It would be obscene to suggest that political freedom in America is anything like that now, but anyone who says "It can't happen here" is kidding themselves.

In fact, the United States has put in place what William Binney, a former National Security Agency employee, called a "turnkey totalitarian state." A key feature of this state is the ability to see what any citizen is doing at any time. The NSA has made it its goal to slurp up all communications of Americans -- phone calls, emails, text messages, location data, video chats, browsing activity, search terms, etc. This activity makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment; of a person's inalienable right to privacy.

And of course, there are many other agencies that also surveil US citizens. During the May Day march in Oakland last year, my friends and I counted the number of law enforcement agencies monitoring us: California Highway Patrol, Oakland Police, Alameda County Sheriff, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, Bart Police, Amtrak Police -- we may not live in a police state, but we do live in a security state and a surveillance state.

How do we beat back this erosion of freedom? The Electronic Frontier Foundation has suggested a new Church Committee. Personally, I think we ought to go further. I think we need a complete dismantling of the National Security Agency and the rest of the security state apparatus and criminal prosecutions for those that set it up.

Whatever you think might the solution might be, I think it's clear that Nancy Pelosi does not have it. Pelosi, as we know, has been working overtime to continue the surveillance state.

It's going to require a collective effort to defeat Pelosi's policies. If the surveillance issue matters to you, please get in touch with Restore the Fourth. Thanks.

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