Tuesday is recycling day in my neighborhood. This Tuesday also happened to be election day, so I was feeling politically, as well as environmentally, motivated today. I walked to my precinct’s polling place to cast my vote in Boston’s mayoral and city council elections. This morning I recycled what waste I could from the week’s consumption for curbside pickup and this evening I recycled what words I could from a previous political action for the ACLU’s call to support the USA FREEDOM Act:

In an era of global terrorism, I accept that citizens may need to forego certain nonessential privacies and privileges in order to enhance our collective and individual security. However, at the same time, I demand accountability from those who would diminish our freedoms. As a nation, we must always proceed in such a way to ensure that power is not abused. We must maintain mutual transparency whenever possible and accountability in all cases. The original Foreign Intelligence Survelliance Act (FISA) was drafted specifically to allow the executive branch to engage in intelligence gathering with necessary secrecy while at the same time enforcing appropriate judicial checks to prevent abuse. Checks and balances are an essential feature of our republic and must be preserved to protect us against the corruption that unmitigated authority inevitably brings with it. Unfortunately, the USA PATRIOT Act, its reauthorizations, and more recent FISA amendments have weakened these protections to allow additional unsupervised, classified, wiretapping authority, even though FISA already granted technology-neutral surveillance authority and ex post facto warrants. The revelations of the past few months demonstrate that the NSA has not only fully exploited but likely overstepped the authority Congress had given it in these new laws. 

I fully expect my elected representatives to act to protect us from the specter of terrorism, the fear of which robs us of our freedom of assembly, our freedom of movement, and the sense of security required for us to pursue the promise of life, liberty, and happiness which is our birthright. As importantly, however, I expect my elected representatives to defend us against the specter of Big Brother, the presence of which also engenders fear, and which robs us of our freedom of speech, our freedom of thought, and the privacy and security which are also our birthrights. 

Reasoned estimates place the likelihood of a U.S. citizen dying in a terrorist attack less than that of accidentally drowning. Neither the public’s unreasoned fear of terrorism nor the government’s perceived need to be seen as doing something to combat it should force us to give up our hard-fought essential liberties, yet we have already done so with Congress’s overreaching PATRIOT Act, FISA amendments, and the resultant massive NSA surveillance programs. 

Please take a first step to redress this situation and steer us back toward government accountability by supporting the USA FREEDOM Act. Thank you for working to restore our rights and liberties.