The Power of ‘No!’ Against the NSA

Would you stand up to the NSA and protect your privacy rights? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

September 9, 2014 – Well, it looks like the much-heralded Screen-Shot-2014-09-09-at-2.34.36-PMNSA reform bill probably won’t even come up for consideration in the current Congress.

Multiple congressional sources report that the Senate version USA Freedom Act simply doesn’t rise high enough on the priority chart to move forward.

In what it calls a “stinging setback,” the National Journal reports that despite broad support from both sides of the political aisle, and even a ringing endorsement from NSA head James Clapper, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s reform bill has little chance of seeing the light of day before the November elections, or even in the lame duck session afterward.

I hate to say, “I told you so,” but this doesn’t exactly come as a big shock. After all, Congress has had nearly 40 years to reform the spy agency. Sen. Frank Church warned us about the NSA way back in 1975, saying that if a dictator took over the agency it “could enable [him] to impose total tyranny.”

It should be pretty clear at this point: Congress will never substantially reform the NSA. If you plan on waiting for the political class in Washington D.C. to protect your privacy, you will likely still be waiting 40 years from now. Depending on Congress to fix the NSA has about as much chance of success as counting on Santa Clause to get the job done.

But I have good news.

We don’t have to depend on Santa Claus.

Nor Congress.

At OffNow, we utilize an important lesson learned during the fight for civil rights in the 1950s and ‘60s – think globally and act locally.

And our plan is so easy to execute, even a 3-year-old can do it.

Just say, “No!”

Rosa Parks was riding the Cleveland Avenue bus home from work in Montgomery, Alabama on Dec. 1, 1955, when the white only seats in the front filled with passengers. Bus driver James Blake moved the “colored” section sign behind the row Parks was sitting in and demanded that she and the three other black passengers move to seats in the rear of the bus to accommodate the white riders.

The three other people in the row complied.

Rosa Parks did not.

“When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that,’” Parks recalled in a 1987 PBS documentary on the Civil Rights movement.

Rosa went to jail. She faces trial four days later and was convicted of disorderly conduct. The judge fined her $10 and $4 in court costs. She also lost her job as a seamstress at a local department store.

But her “No!” was the spark that ignited a fire that ultimately killed Jim Crow.

“It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became,” Parks later said.

The OffNow plan utilizes a similar strategy – work at the state and local level to make it more difficult for the NSA and other federal agencies to violate our rights. The goal – direct state governments and their political subdivisions to refuse cooperation or participation with any federal agency engaged in illegal surveillance. Our strategy consists in creating sparks that will ignite a blaze and ultimately force change from the bottom up.

This strategy doesn’t just apply to NSA spying. We can direct states to say, “No!” to unconstitutional federal gun control. We can direct states to say, “No!” to the “Drug War.” We can even direct states to say, “No!” to Obamacare.

Indeed, the time has come for us to say, “No!” because Rosa Park was right – the more we give in the more oppressive it will become.

And “No!” can truly change the world.


National Journal
OffNow Campaign
Tenth Amendment Center