”Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” -Benjamin Franklin
The United States has some of the most fearful citizens in the world. It’s no wonder with the media spewing fear laden headlines of swine flu and color-coded terror charts. The United States carries a paranoid persona of always having to watch its own back and this is reflected by how much we spend on defense. As a country, we have prided ourselves on facing tyranny and cultivating freedom; freedom from oppression and the freedom to have your voice heard.
However, the same governing body that promoted these truths to be self evident is now exposed as a liar. Julian Assange was put in jail for exposing the government with Wikileaks the same year we learned that amidst controversy over privacy settings on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was named TIME Magazine’s man of the year. Like an Orwellian fantasy, the government hypocritically punishes people for revealing their high-level political corruption and criminality, casting the whistleblowers as traitors to democracy. Many people (38%) agree with that former NSA agent Edward Snowden-who exposed the government’s massive surveillance programs- is a traitor to the country, while 33% of citizens regard him as the hero in this story, and 29% of citizens are unsure how they feel.
Snowden said of himself:
“I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”
No matter how you feel about the issue, one trend is obvious: our privacy has been and continues to decrease; we are losing the liberties that we so proudly proclaim, as the rug of “democracy” sweeps us up from under our feet. Well, thanks to the internet and free press, we can use the same technology the NSA and PRISM uses to track our every move, to organize ourselves and take meaningful action. A motivated person on the online forum known as reddit, posted the names of all of the state representatives who have voted in favor of increased surveillance measures.
Take a look.
The list includes congressional members’ names, party, chamber (house or senate), and their votes on the patriot act (2001), the re-authorization (2006), the Protect America Act (2007), FISA (2008), the patriot act extension (2011), the FISA extension (2012) and the Amash amendment (2013).
It then attempts to tabulate an intrusion score based on the number of bad and good votes each number has made. A high intrusion score means a member has done more damage to our privacy, and a low intrusion score means they have done less damage (or acted to protect our privacy).
There are three tabs:
Master List: This is the first tab, which contains all of the data.
Key: This is the second tab, which explains the column headings in the master list.
Priority Contacts: Right now, the Holt ‘Repeal the Surveillance State Act’ is sitting in committee. I have ranked the House Judiciary Committee (roughly) by the priority with which they should be contacted, and included my reasoning and their DC office numbers. The higher the name on the list (ideally), the more worthwhile the call should be.
Now you have the names of some of the biggest power players and their phone numbers. it’s time to really exercise YOUR power.
What You Can Do
#1. Call the names on the priority contacts list.
- The list is in the data file linked above, and I’ve also copied the names and numbers below.
- When you dial the number, you’ll be connected to an intern sitting in front of a clipboard or computer screen with check boxes. Wasting your breath with long-winded discussion helps no one. Keep it as clear and simple as possible, and be kind to the person you’re talking to; they control whether your message goes up the chain.
- “Hi, I’m calling to ask representative X to support Rep. Holt’s ‘repeal the surveillance state act, HR 2818. I’m very concerned about PRISM and XKeyscore. Please pass my message along to the representative.” Remember to call the representative by name as this is the most effective way to get their attention.
- If you are not asked for your zip code and you are not a constituent, don’t provide it.
- If you are a constituent, make sure they get your zip code.
- If you are asked for your zip code and you are not a constituent, say, “I’m calling Rep. [X] in connection with his role on the house judiciary committee, where s/he is making decisions that affect me directly, and I’d like my message passed along though I am not a constituent.”
#2. Call your own reps.
Use the data above to let them know you’re familiar with their voting record and it will be influencing your vote. Again, keep it brief.
Ask them to support Holt’s ‘Repeal the Surveillance State Act, HR 2818’.
#3. Reach out to friends and family and get them to call.
- This is the second most important thing you can do. Especially family that are in the districts of high priority contacts. For every person you convince to call, you are (doubling, tripling, quadrupling) your impact.
- Every step you help them take increases the probability they will call.
- Looking up their reps for them and sending them the phone numbers probably doubles the chances they’ll call.
- Explaining the situation, how to talk to interns (as I explained to you above), then dialing the phone for them and sticking it in their hand probably puts you close to 100% success.
#4. Share this post or something like it.
I don’t care how you do this. The spreadsheet is public domain. This post is public domain as far as I’m concerned. Copy it, claim it’s your brilliant idea, or link people directly to this post. Change it however you want. Just share this information (StumbleUpon, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Carrier Pigeon, Pack Mule, etc.) so others can have access to it and will be encouraged to contact their friends and loved ones as well.
House Judiciary Committee (In Order of Priority):
- Goodlatte 202-225-5431
- Chaffertz 202-225-7751
- Jackson 202-225-3816
- Gohmert 202-225-3035
- Labrador 202-225-6611
- Richmond 202-225-6636
- Lofgren 202-225-3072
- DelBene 202-225-6311
- DeSantis 202-225-2706
- Jeffries 202-225-5936
- Bachus 202-225-4921
- Chabot 202-225-2216
- Sensenbrenner 202-225-5101
- Jordan 202-225-2676
- Deutch 202-225-3001
- Farenthold 202-225-7742
- Gowdy 202-225-6030
- Amodei 202-225-6155
- Collins 202-225-9893
- Garcia 202-225-2778
- Gutiérrez 202-225-8203
- Holding 202-225-3032
- Marino 202-225-3731
- Franks 202-225-4576
- Poe 202-225-6565
- Coble 202-225-3065
- Forbes 202-225-6365
- Issa 202-225-3906
- Smith 202-225-4236
- King 202-225-4426
- Bass 202-225-7084
- Chu 202-225-5464
- Cohen 202-225-3265
- Conyers 202-225-5126
- Scott 202-225-8351
- Nadler 202-225-5635
- Watt 202-225-1510
Remember that these politicians are here to represent YOU, the citizen of a democratic society. The country–and the world as a whole–is beginning to wake up and realize how much power the people truly have when we come together in great numbers. Now is the moment to exercise your freedom and