Celebs Tell Govt to 'Stop Watching Us'

Monday, 28 Oct 2013 09:52 AM

By James Hirsen

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Some major Hollywood celebrities are appearing in a new video to express their objections to the widespread surveillance program, which has been administered by the National Security Agency (NSA).
 
Despite being highly critical of the government surveillance policy, the video’s celebrity participants avoid any mention of the individual who is ultimately in charge of the agency, President Obama.
 
The U.K. Guardian newspaper first reported on the U.S. government’s surveillance tactics after having received documents from agency contractor Edward Snowden. A series of reports published in the Guardian as well as The Washington Post revealed what were at one time secret activities by the NSA, which involved the gathering of phone records and Internet activities of U.S. citizens.
 
Director Oliver Stone, actors John Cusack, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Richard “Wil” Wheaton, and talk show host Phil Donahue appeared in the video along with whistle-blowers, activists, politicians, and academics.
 
The video footage was posted on YouTube by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and is titled “Stop Watching Us: The Video.”
 
Also alongside those participating in the high profile video effort are whistle-blowers, including former AT&T technician Mark Klein, who claims that his ex-employer had forwarded Internet traffic to the government, and former NSA analyst J. Kirk Wiebe, who went public with information about domestic surveillance programs.
 
As is frequently observed with politically charged Hollywood product, partisan sensibilities subtly made their way into the video’s content. The footage is replete with photos of and suggestions concerning J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon but devoid of images of or references to the Obama administration.
 
“Stop Watching Us: The Video” is directed by Brian Knappenberger, a documentary filmmaker who is best known for “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists,” which has as its main focus the hacker activist group Anonymous.
 
Knappenberger’s latest video has gone viral with more than 900,000 views and still climbing.
 
The video release was timed to correspond with a protest rally that took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, one in which whistle-blowers, activists, researchers, and representatives of numerous political persuasions were featured.
 
The rally resulted from an ongoing campaign on behalf of EFF and other organizations that collectively refer to themselves as “Stop Watching Us.” The group is described on the EFF YouTube channel as “a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.” 
 
The unusual politics of the surveillance issue are illustrated by the fact that the group includes both the left-leaning ACLU and the tea party group FreedomWorks, which have joined hands in the fight for the same cause.
 
Republican Rep. Justin Amash, who co-sponsored an amendment to this year’s Defense Department appropriations bill that would have prevented the blanket collection of data, was a speaker at the event.
 
Other speakers included former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who in 2012 ran for president on the Libertarian Party slate. Iraq War veteran Dan Choi and former NSA linguist Thomas Drake, who was accused of providing classified information to a Baltimore Sun reporter, appeared as well.
 
The date on which the event was held has significance for rally participants. The “Stop Watching Us” group selected the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act as its rally date.
 
It also delivered a letter to Congress along with more than 500,000 digital signatures and a demand for accountability and reform of NSA and FBI domestic surveillance policies.
 
The letter argued that the blanket data collection by the government “strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy.” It additionally described the domestic spying as “dragnet surveillance” and maintained that it “violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy.”
 
Those who signed the letter are calling on Congress to “take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s and the FBI’s data collection programs.”
 
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
 
 
 

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