Excerpt of UUSC's statement released June 13, 2013:
"The disclosure of these surveillance programs is the latest evidence of the ways in which the post-9/11 security state has curtailed civil liberties without adequate oversight. Critics of the programs argue that they constitute an egregious overreach of executive power and undermine the democratic process. . . Defenders of the NSA surveillance methods currently under scrutiny cite national security as a legitimate rationale for what they see as a minimal invasion of private communications.
"It is possible to acknowledge a vested interest in our nation's security while also voicing concern about what appears to be an alarming lack of government oversight and a serious violation of the right to privacy. The ongoing confusion regarding the surveillance programs is a testament to the secrecy that continues to surround them. Government officials have repeatedly stated that there are safeguards in place to keep the power of surveillance in check, but — as the example of the FISA courts demonstrates — those safeguards are dubious. As long as they remain unclear and secretly interpreted, the laws intended to provide checks and balances through government oversight cannot serve their purpose."
Citations from UUSC's "Keeping Tabs on the NSA" infographic:
Patriot Act, which expands government’s electronic surveillance powers, is passed. (PBS NewsHour)
President Bush secretly authorizes warrantless wiretapping of domestic communications of suspected terrorists by the NSA. (New York Times)
President Bush’s secret authorization of NSA warrantless wiretapping revealed in the New York Times.
Patriot Act renewed. (Washington Post)
Media reports that tens of millions of phone calls have been tracked by the NSA using data from AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. (Business Insider)
PRISM program begins collecting data from Microsoft; by 2012 the program would be collecting data from Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. (Guardian)
Patriot Act is renewed and signed by President Barack Obama. (Huffington Post)