At long last, we are proud to present the final draft of our open letter to our President. This letter would not have been possible, much less at the high caliber of quality it exhibits now, if it weren’t for the help of all of you that gave us your input in ways big and small.
Thank you again to everyone who took part in this collaborative project, and you can find our completed letter below. We’re working with BORDC on a page to allow people to sign on, and will send the link out once it’s ready!
Dear President Obama,
In your response to Get FISA Right’s July 2008 Open Letter on my.barackobama.com, you promised to run “a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples’ business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny.” With Patriot Act and FISA reform once again before Congress, Get FISA Right would like to accept your invitation.
Last July, you told us of your intention to direct your Attorney General to “make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.” Once Patriot Act reform legislation was introduced, Attorney General Holder talked about “a conversation that can be had” about civil liberties concerns. So far, the conversation has been disappointing. Your administration opposed long overdue and badly needed protections for civil liberties and urged their eventual rejection by the Senate. Absent this intervention, the legislation emerging from the Senate and House Judiciary Committees would likely include greater civil liberties protections.
We ask you and your administration to take a strong stand to support significant reform of key sections of the Patriot Act, including National Security Letters, Section 215, Lone Wolf, Sneak and Peek, and material support. Legislatively, we ask for your public support of HR 3845 and 3846, and amendments adding similar protections to S 1692.
In spite of your promises for an open and transparent government, much of the conversation around this issue has been behind closed doors or via unnamed participants. We ask that you remember your promises and respond in an open and transparent manner. With your background in constitutional law, and insight into the complex trade-offs you must make as President, you are uniquely qualified to help all Americans see beyond the false trade-off between national security and civil liberties. Please continue the discussion with us, and other voices supporting civil liberties, even when we disagree.
President Obama, the Organizing for America caption still reads, “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington…I’m asking you to believe in yours.” We believe, and hope you do too.
Americans of all stripes have grown increasingly wary of giving up liberty for the illusion of security. Get FISA Right’s 23,000 community organizers are the largest grassroots issue-oriented group on Organizing for America, and we are only one of many organizations across the political spectrum working to restore our civil liberties.
If you join us, you can inspire the same wave of grassroots energy that propelled you to the Presidency. Together we can reject the politics of fear, and turn the page on the abuses to our constitutional rights during the last eight years.