Update, November 22: thanks once again for the great feedback! Please check out the final draft!
We received some really fantastic feedback from our proposed open letter to Obama and have revised it accordingly — for example, this draft is about 40% shorter. We’ve tried to incorporate everybody’s perspectives … please have a look at this version and see what you think:
Dear President Obama,
In response to Get FISA Right’s July 2008 Open Letter, 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, we woiuld 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, AG 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, incuding National Security Letters, Section 215, Lone Wolf, Sneak and peak, and material support. Legislatively, we ask for your public support of HR 3845 and 3846, and amendments adding similar protections to S 1692.
Just as importantly, in light of your promises regarding open government, we ask you to respect the people’s passion regarding our rights as citizens and to respond in an open and transparent way. Much of the conversation has gone on behind closed doors or via anonymous sources, rather than out in the open. With your background in constitutional law, and insight into the complex tradeoffs you must make as President, you are uniquely qualified to help all Americans to get beyond the false tradeoff between national security and civil liberties.
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 or 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 of the last 8 years