I emailed four government people today (Obama, two congress people, and my representative), and even posted to facebook about it. I’ve never written a letter, and I can’t remember the last time I posted on Facebook. I’m probably I’ll go to a protest on July 4th, too.
Below is the full text of what I sent, plus a modified paragraph I sent specifically to Obama. Maybe it matters. Maybe it doesn’t. The fact is I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and couldn’t sleep until this was done. It’s 5:40 now. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Oh, and fuck Hoover.
Subject: End sweeping surveillance programs
Dear congress person,
The recent revelations concerning the NSA and Edward Snowden inspired me to write to you today. It doesn’t matter what Mr. Snowden has done, what his educational background is, or what he decides to do next. What matters is he’s right. He’s right in that eventually, the information gained by the NSA and our government will be used, by one or many persons, against the public for less-than-wholesome reasons. History has seen what the vengeful and paranoid have done. Imagine what they would do with the technological advances of today.
My first letter to an elected official probably should have been about the U.S. drone program. Military involvement is my most important issue, as far as the federal government is concerned. Everyone has their own values. Defense, education, social equity, the environment. But whatever our opinions may be are moot unless we live in a free and open society, and have leaders who will listen.
My first letter concerns PRISM, all other programs like it, and the direction U.S. policies and intelligence agencies are headed, because they have the potential to destroy free societies. With enough information, a picture can be painted on anyone to discredit them no matter how innocent they may be. The more information that can be used, the worse it can get.
It doesn’t matter if the surveillance programs are currently being used for just causes, and everybody involved is acting with their best intentions. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It doesn’t matter if it’s just meta-data, targeted querying, or reviewed via warrants or subpoenas, or if the data is given voluntarily. The fact is that some time down the line, a person or persons will be in put charge, and they will not think twice about using the collected information to attack what they believe to be their enemies, wrong or right, legal or no.
We can let the future become that. Let it get so bad that there’s no turning back, when letters and rallies and public discourse won’t matter anymore. Or we can stop it now. Begin stopping it, before it gets too late.
Ideally, I would like the end to the NSA and all surveillance done on the public in general, foreign and domestic. Also, I would like to see a return of a transparent judicial system, with traditional public oversight and review, without programs like FISA and secret interpretations of the law.
Thanks for reading.
Modified paragraph for Mr. President:
My first letter probably should have been about the U.S. drone program. While I believed in most of your promises in 2008, Mr. President, your actions lost my vote in 2012. Military involvement is my most important issue, as far as the federal government is concerned. And everyone’s values are different. Defense, education, social equity, the environment. But whatever our opinions may be are moot unless we live in a free and open society, and have leaders who will listen.
The White House