Key Takeaways from Dec. 8 Organizing Call

By: Harry Waisbren

Our call this week was particularly exciting, as we made a whole lot of ground solidifying our strategy while also assessing next steps based on some huge progress in the last week or so. As always, we encourage everyone to go through our call’s complete transcript, and you will also find some of the key takeaways below:

Legislative Situation

  • Bottom line: everybody involved in this fight believes there will be an extension of the Patriot Act that will be continued into next year extending the sunset time for another 3 or 6 months. This was the consensus from the multitude of experts consulted, including a series of legislators Mark was able to get in touch with in the past few days.
  • Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats alike continue to profess their desire to extend current law, as well as the Obama administration speaking through the FBI.
  • For more details, see Mark’s piece on this topic published in the Huffington Post.

In District Focus

  • This is a key element in our effort to transition from being “rabble rousers” to influencing legislation.
  • As Amy has pointed out, we need to start small with local stories in order to build up in the massive way we aim to, and we all must be more conscious of engaging our own state’s politicians as we move forward.

Transpartisan focus

  • Privacy concerns transcend any notions of left vs. right, and most politicians in this day and age claim to be above the fray while speaking for “the people”—especially President Obama. However, both political parties are ignoring the civil liberties consensus amongst their constituents.
  • Bipartisanship does not mean merely Republican and Democratic politicians working together, it is the agreement from the grassroots activists that is so powerful on this issue, and it is our job to amplify the wishes from both sides of the aisle in order to make their representatives bow to the will of the people.
  • What this means for us is that we will be increasing our tangible outreach efforts to the very epitome of strange bedfellows, including conservative groups such as the NRA and liberal ones such as legalization advocates. These two groups in particular are the ones most at risk from Patriot Act provisions such as Sneak and Peek, and this effort represents a rare opportunity to bring such people together in the true definition of a transcendence of partisanship.

Pennsylvania Outreach

  • Amy has been leveraging her local contacts and reaching out to both Sen. Specter and his primary challenger Rep. Sestak’s offices, and today held a meeting with Specter’s legislative aid and chief council to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of our buildup to ensure civil liberties is a primary element of the Democratic primary campaign.

Nevada Outreach

  • Rebecca emphasized the strong adherence to privacy concerns held amongst Nevada constituents in general, and this combined with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s looming election battle make this another state ripe for us to leverage our issues onto the national stage.
  • Even better, Firedoglake has been exhibiting the degree to which Reid’s dire electoral situation can be leveraged through innovative new media based phone banking to the area pushing him to show true leadership in the public option fight.
  • We feel a focus on Nevada is especially warranted considering one of our strongest allies, #p2 co-founder Tracy Viselli, is a resident and activist in the area.

Get FISA Right Video

  • We have two videos we would like to make. One would be a quick overview totaling 3-5 minutes describing what’s the issue, what’s at stake, what do we want to have happen. The other being a 30 second TV ad to put on cable TV through
  • Our previous use of video have been extremely successful in the past, and we are looking to replicate the strategy used to produce and distribute our Inauguration Day video in particular, which is embedded below:
  • we will also be establishing a “multimedia library” including all of the available video resources for us to spread and use as inspiration for these projects.

Google Wave

  • Forest, aka tw3k, joined us for this call and suggested we engage further with Google Wave. This could solve our problem of creating a singular place to go that’s easy for anyone to update to see what’s going on for team members and other people working for civil liberties.
  • We had already begun our first attempts at this, including this early attempt at uploading and acting upon our open letter, and we further invite anyone who would like to help out to let us know so we can get them invited to Google Wave and up to speed on how it works!

Clearly much was accomplished, yet with all these great ideas we have that much further to go to implement them in order to make the kind of impact that we desire.

Thanks to Amy, Mark, Jon, tw3k (Forest) Troy, Korkie, Jim, Kevin, and Rebecca for joining this call, to everyone else following along silently, and as always, to all of our other fantastic supporters without whom none of this would be possible!

We are quite excited by the new team members we have been picking up, and also hope older ones continue to come back into the fold as they find projects that interest them and as time becomes available.


One Response to Key Takeaways from Dec. 8 Organizing Call

  1. jonpincus says:

    NOt sure if anybody saw but the 9th circuit ruled against Brandon Mayfield’s challenge to the Patriot Act —

    It’s a clear example of somebody being harmed — the government even settled with him. Useful grist for the mill …


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