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Glenn Greenwald: Congress Won’t Stop NSA

Glenn Greenwald got it right again in an oped he penned several weeks ago – this time, on the futility of working through the do-nothing Congress to reform the NSA’s unconstitutional spying program.

In a Nov. 19 editorial for First Look, Greenwald opined about the recent failure of the U.S.A. Freedom Act and how it would have accomplished very little even if it were successful.

When pro-privacy members of Congress first unveiled the bill many months ago, it was actually a good bill: real reform. But the White House worked very hard— in partnership with the House GOP—to water that bill down so severely that what the House ended up passing over the summer did more to strengthen the NSA than rein it in, which caused even the ACLU and EFF to withdraw their support. The Senate bill rejected last night was basically a middle ground between that original, good bill and the anti-reform bill passed by the House…

The entire system in D.C. is designed at its core to prevent real reform. This Congress is not going to enact anything resembling fundamental limits on the NSA’s powers of mass surveillance. Even if it somehow did, this White House would never sign it. Even if all that miraculously happened, the fact that the U.S. intelligence community and National Security State operates with no limits and no oversight means they’d easily co-opt the entire reform process.

As usual, Greenwald’s commentary was poignant, punchy and on the mark.

But he did miss a possible alternative to begging Washington D.C. to reform the NSA – action at the state level

Greenwald failed to mention the developments in Utah, which have garnered a massive amount of press coverage. The overwhelming support for our 4th Amendment Protection Act in that state is a game changer. It is opening people’s eyes to the effectiveness of state-level resistance, and taking the focus off of a Congress that refuses to lift a finger to fix chronic abuses like warrantless NSA spying.

Our views are firmly in the mainstream of political thought. It has been widely recognized that the legal basis for our bills is sound. That fact was not refuted by anyone during the Utah committee hearings. This is how the NSA can be defeated. It will not be easy, but it is possible. On the other hand, federal-level reforms are impossible, as Greenwald correctly noted. Voting the pro-NSA politicians out is futile as well. These conventional ways of pushing back have failed. It is time to try something different.

The OffNow plan is something new and innovative when it comes to dealing with unconstitutional spying. By denying the NSA the resources that it needs to function, we can stop its illegal behavior. The NSA cannot spy on all of us without our water. Let’s cut them off now, and restore our privacy rights before time runs out.

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