July 10, 2014. Washington. (ONN) A peculiar coalition of 23 political organizations has joined together in an ongoing campaign to end across-the-board domestic spying by the NSA on the American people. With an announcement two weeks ago, the coalition called Stand Against Spying has created a website where citizens can enter their address and receive a report card detailing how their Congressmen have voted on past Bills giving the NSA free reign to spy on law abiding Americans.
Stand Against Spying is a curious collection of ‘grassroots’ organizations. Image courtesy of StandAgainstSpying.org.
We may anger some of our friends with the follow statement, but you know Whiteout Press - we’re not afraid to tell it like it is and call it like we see it. And it’s our experienced opinion that the just-launched “grassroots coalition” is anything but. In fact, if it weren’t for the participation of some very respected groups, it would seem to be a front group for the establishment. Many of them are self-declared outsiders who actually come from the heart of the Democrat and Republican parties. They seem to have suddenly had a change of heart and joined the rest of us in the opposition.
What is Stand Against Spying?
According to the organization’s website, ‘We are a coalition of organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum advocating for transparency and an end to mass surveillance.’ It goes on to tout its broad-based membership saying, ‘We have different missions, different goals, different communities that we represent. However, we all agree that mass surveillance is contrary to freedom and democracy. It must be stopped.’
The main tool of Stand Against Spying is an online searchable database of all 533 members of the US House and Senate. Americans can enter their address and instantly, their two US Senators and one US Representative will pop up along with a report card giving each a grade ranging from A to F. This would actually be a good idea, but only if it's honest and accurate. And based on the overall numbers and a few exercises, it's not.
Red Flags on searchable database
For instance, legislation like the Patriot Act, NDAA and all the rest of the federal government’s self-approved mass spying authority has passed with a majority of both houses of Congress voting for them. So, theoretically, a majority of the 533 Congressmen in Stand Against Spying’s database should get a failing grade. But in reality, 45% of Congressmen get an ‘A’ grade from the group while only 35% get an ‘F’.
With Whiteout Press located on the northwest side of Chicago, we did a search for our own Congressmen using the Stand Against Spying report card. US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) received an ‘A’ grade from the group. As the Senate Majority Whip, he IS the establishment. He’s repeatedly voted to extend the Patriot Act. And one progressive grassroots anti-spying group said the following about Sen. Durbin and his history of supporting NSA spy programs, ‘The bills, S. 236 and S. 495 (entitled the Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 and the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2007, respectively), are co-sponsored by a small group of senators. Sadly, Senator Durbin has cosponsored neither. That is simply shameful.’ Does that sound like an ‘A’ grade to you?
Next up was our other US Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). Kirk was awarded a grade of ‘?’ by the Stand Against Spying database. That’s funny considering the pro-NSA Republican Senator has repeatedly voted for unmonitored, unbridled spying on the American people. He’s repeatedly voted to extend the Patriot Act and he voted against Congressional oversight of other spy programs. Kirk has also repeatedly voted to allow the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants. Does that warrant a grade of ‘?’?
Our US Representative is Mike Quigley (D-IL), a former local reformer turned party loyalist. Rep. Quigley also earns an ‘A’ grade from Stand Against Spying. But a quick search of the Congressman’s voting record calls that grade into question. The most recent example is Quigley’s vote against the Conyers/Amash Amendment which would have limited the NSA’s program of mass domestic spying. Quigley is also credited with being one of the many members of Congress personally responsible for the NSA’s overreach (see Related Whiteout Press articles below). He voted to extend FISA surveillance, along with all its secret programs and provisions. Does that sound like an ‘A’ grade?
Who are the 23 organizations making up Stand Against Spying?
Aside from the group’s apparently flawed grading system, either purposely or accidentally, another red flag is raised when one looks at the 23 organizations making up the coalition. The website promotes, ‘We have different missions, different goals, different communities that we represent. However, we all agree that mass surveillance is contrary to freedom and democracy. It must be stopped.’
The coalition includes a broad range of groups, including for-profit multi-national media corporations that routinely censor and black-out America’s news. It includes Tea Party PAC’s, and as we often remind readers, the Tea Party Congressional Caucus has repeatedly voted for Patriot Act extensions, with the former Caucus Chairwoman Michele Bachmann being the Act’s biggest cheerleader. Other participating groups, both conservative and progressive, include a number of former Republican and Democrat elected officials who have themselves supported the NSA’s actions.
This isn’t to say that some of the participating organizations in Stand Against Spying aren’t proven and worthy of readers’ support and trust. Of the 23 coalition members, three are longtime friends of Whiteout Press and our readers. The Libertarian Party, Greenpeace and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have more than earned their stripes in the battle for privacy and freedom from overly intrusive government spying. As for the rest, we’ll let readers decide.
Here is the full list of member organizations making up Stand Against Spying (from StandAgainstSpying.org):
Most readers probably agree that the idea of forming a coalition of grassroots organizations to work toward ending the US federal government’s mass, across-the-board spying on Americans is a good thing. And most of the organizations involved are good, sincere, honest groups. But there’s something ‘off’ about this entire effort, especially a report card system that gives ‘A’ grades to Congressmen who deserve ‘F’ grades and participating organizations that are made up of some of the very same people who gave America these overreaching domestic spying programs in the first place.
For more information, visit StandAgainstSpying.org.