This past Saturday, thousands of people protested massive, unconstitutional National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance in Washington, DC. Among the speakers at the rally were GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, who relayed a statement that NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden asked her to read on his behalf, and GAP client/NSA whistleblower — and 2011 Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize Winner — Thomas Drake, who spoke to the crowd about his experience of being prosecuted by the federal government for telling the truth.
The event was the largest rally against mass surveillance in American history. You can watch Drake speaking, then Radack, here:
Media reporting of the event was tremendous, as the Guardian, USA Today, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Christian Science Monitor, FireDogLake, CNET, Daily Caller, RT,and Mashable (just to name a few) all covered this remarkable occurrence.
The event was organized by Stop Watching Us, a coalition made up of more than 100 advocacy groups from across the nation. Other speakers at the event included:
And many more, such as advocates from the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Here is the full text of Snowden's statement, as relayed by Radack:
In the last four months, we've learned a lot about our government. We've learned that the US Intelligence Community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone call in America goes through without record from the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands.
Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong.
We've also learned this isn’t about red or blue or party lines. And it is definitely not about terrorism.
It's about power, control, and trust in government. About whether you have a voice in our democracy, or decisions are made for you rather than with you. We are here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators.
This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind government to stop them. It's about our right to know, our right to associate freely, and to live in a free and open democratic society.
We are witnessing an American moment in which ordinary people from high school to high office stand up to oppose a dangerous trend in government.
We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled. We have not forgotten that the Fourth Amendment in our Bill of Rights prohibits government not only from searching our personal effects without a warrant, but from seizing them in the first place … and doing so in secret.
Holding to this principle, we declare that mass surveillance has no place in this country. It is time for reform.
Elections are coming and we're watching you.
GAP and Radack have defended the actions of Snowden since he came forward. GAP released this statement, proving Snowden to be a whistleblower, in the days after he publicly identified himself. Most recently, this past Friday, Radack appeared on both CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes to defend Snowden's actions and discuss the ramifications of the Angela Merkel phone-tapping controversy.
This post originally appeared on the Government Accountability Project's website and is posted here with permission.