Local activists who say their
privacy rights are under siege by an over-zealous government will take
their fight to a local congressman who's on the record supporting the NSA's
controversial surveillance program.
The Sonoma County Chapter of Progressive Democrats will rally outside the district office of Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
The protest will feature a speak-out and a vigil along with several prominent local progressive speakers. The event is co-sponsored by the Coalition for Grassroots Progress.
The NSA's surveillance program has come under fire in the aftermath of revelations of government spying leaked by former NSA and CIA staffer Edward Snowden.
Snowden, who is wanted by the United States government on espionage charges, fled the country after his allegations were published earlier this year by The Guardian, a British newspaper. Snowden is now in Russia, where he's been granted temporary asylum.
Thompson was already under fire for voting against an amendment that would have limited the NSA program. An Aug. 13 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat quoting Thompson saying "national security and personal privacy are not 'mutually exclusive' " triggered a firestorm.
Chan, chair of Progressive Democrats Sonoma County, suggested in a prepared
statement that the government's surveillance program rises to the level of a
civil rights issue.
“It’s significant that this vigil for civil liberties is being held on August 28, the 50th anniversary of the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech,” Chan said.
The NSA surveillance controversy has fueled odd political bedfellows, with firebrand conservatives such as TV talk show host Glenn Beck and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seemingly reading from the same talking points as progressive groups.
The Coalition for Grassroots Progress release a statement blasting Thompson ahead of Wednesday's rally that just as easily could have come from the group's improbable new allies on the right.
“Most Americans, including those who live in Congressman Thompson’s district, reject the current policies that allow the government to target the telephone records of journalists, or to vacuum up the phone-call records of hundreds of millions of Americans, or to capture and store everyone’s emails, or to jettison centuries-long principles of due process and habeas corpus,” the CGP statement said.
An earlier version of this article mischaracterized quotes attributed to Congressman Thompson as being different, when they were in fact identical.
Thompson came under fire after an Aug. 13 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat quoted him as saying "national security and personal privacy are not 'mutually exclusive.' "
The article inaccurately reported that Thompson "backpedaled" in a prepared statement he released on Aug. 16 saying “I do not believe protecting our citizens’ lives and civil liberties are mutually exclusive pursuits." He did not.