Jenny Beth Martin and Jeremy Rosen 9:57 p.m. CDT May 19,
ACLU, Tea Party agree: Urge government to stop spying
Believe it or not, the Tea Party Patriots and the American Civil Liberties Union have
some priorities in common. For one thing, we agree on the need for significant
reforms to curtail government surveillance authorities, like some of those included in
the Patriot Act.
The government claims that current law authorizes it to collect and store records
about intimate, personal conversations between husbands and wives, doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, and
pastors and congregants — all communications that should be, and we all assume are, private.
The worst part? The government routinely collects this information without a warrant or even any suspicion that a
person is linked to terrorism. Our local police must get a warrant from a judge in order to search our homes or
property. Why is it not the same when the NSA and the federal government want to seize and store intimate details
about our private lives? What happened to our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and
Jeremy Rosen (Photo: Submitted)
Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals was asked similar questions, and
found that the government’s collection and storage of millions of telephone records
under Section 215 of the Patriot Act was unauthorized and illegal, despite the
government’s claims that it was following the law.
While this decision was a major victory for the privacy rights of everyday, innocent
Iowans, Congress must take steps to roll back the laws that the government is using
to infringe on our liberty and privacy.
Several provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1, and Congress is
debating whether or not to reauthorize them. Congress should let these provisions
expire, and begin a real conversation about necessary reforms to protect the
freedom of innocent Americans.
The Tea Party Patriots and the ACLU are by no means alone in this fight. Those in favor of at least some type of
reform of government surveillance programs include presidential hopefuls Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton,
organizations like the National Rifle Association and Amnesty International, advocates such as Grover Norquist and
Newt Gingrich, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and even President Barack Obama. Has
such a diverse group ever agreed on anything?
One person noticeably missing here is Iowa’s senior U.S. senator, Chuck Grassley, who — as chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee — has an important voice in this debate.
In previous years, Grassley has supported the full reauthorization of the Patriot Act. But now, with the chorus of
reform advocates growing nearly every day, we believe he should reconsider his support, vote against any
reauthorization, and add his voice to those fighting to uphold the Fourth Amendment and protect Iowans from
unconstitutional violations of privacy. Indeed, this is what most Iowans want. A poll commissioned by the ACLU and
conducted jointly in late April by a bipartisan pair of research firms, found two thirds of Iowans believe that the Patriot
Act should not be reauthorized in its current form.
We urge Senator Grassley, and all Iowans, to work to rein in government surveillance and pass meaningful reform.
Jenny Beth Martin is the President and Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots.
Jeremy Rosen is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.