Key Takeaways from May 18 Organizing Call

By: Harry Waisbren

As usual, we have another fantastic call today, building off the energy from our last call focusing on the “who” we will engage, while this time discussing the “how” in much more detail.

You can read through the full transcript on our meeting page, otherwise below you will find the key takeaways:

  • We elaborated on the “ask” we will give in our transpartisan outreach, and have come to an agreement that coalitioning and collaborating with the BORDC on their model ordinances campaign is the way to go. Shahid explained that these ordinances combine limits to protect against intelligence collection with preventing racial profiling. This jibes perfectly with our transpartisan mentality, as we hopefully will be able to connect with like minded civil libertarians working in good faith who are not driven by a nativist animus…
  • Mark discussed the problem of having disparate efforts between many civil liberties organization with far too little connection between them. There is a need to connect these groups along a “21st century civil rights agenda” as he put it, which is a framing that I am particularly a fan of!
  • Following up on Mark’s point, we discussed how the Computers Freedom and Privacy conference may be the perfect venue to built such a coalition. Get FISA Right will have a presence during a session on online activism, and there are also various potential working sessions and an unconference which we are discerning how we can best be involved in—with a focus of coming out of it with tangible progress.
  • I brought up the very positive development that the American Freedom Campaign has been folded in to the BORDC, as I am especially a fan of Naomi Wolf and her seminal work The End of America, which she followed up with the book Give Me Liberty. Video of Wolf explaining her important, and frightening, premise below:
  • An impromptu discussion followed up from Wolf based on the role of religion within what is going on today, as I described my conversations with my Rabbi (I had given him a copy of The End of America, and it impacted him as it likewise impacted me), and Mark emphasized how Joe Lieberman’s effort to strip Americans of their citizenship is particularly anathema to the lessons from the Holocaust. I emphasized further how, today, it appears Jews have forgotten the true lesson within our wide-spread clarion call of “Never Forget” in relation to the Holocaust. Shahid as well cited his Muslim faith’s impact on these issues for him, amidst his larger desire to continue these important, and all too rare, conversations while further relaying them in writing.
  • Per a suggestion from Thomas, we discussed Elana Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination and potential GFR actions in response. Thomas suggested utilizing Leahy’s letters, as they are potentially a visible demonstration of Kagan’s “unitary-lite” thinking. He further cited how Larry Lessig defended it to Glenn Greenwald in a fantastic bloggingheads.tv discussion. Shahid also mentioned BORDC’s upcoming activism on Kagan, which Get FISA Right will be proud to support.

We finished the call with a discussion of logistics, as we want to make sure to have something we can laucnh with a media release at CFP, concluding that a call within the next two to three weeks would be prudent.

Thanks to Mark, Jon, Korkie, and Shahid for joining the call, and for Thomas joining in on the chat!

Much progress was made, further getting the ball rolling on some exciting initiatives that will lead to a much higher level of progress as well.

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2 Responses to Key Takeaways from May 18 Organizing Call

  1. Nice writeup, Harry, thanks! I think I may have shorthanded my comment about Leahy’s letter a little too much; what I meant was that the letter may illustrate a *weakness* in Kagan’s unitary-lite analysis (Lessig’s phrase), in that it reminds me again how the executive branch can delay responses to legislative branch inquiries, rather than imperiously dismiss those inquiries out of hand. In other words, there may be room for a lot of mischief even with a ‘kinder, gentler’ unitary executive — and with yet another Justice who’s OK with that.

  2. Harry Waisbren says:

    Glad you liked the post, Thomas! Thanks for adding context to your point on Leahy’s letter as well.

    A kinder, gentler unitary executive is still anathema to democracy…

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