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National Call to Action to End Illegal Federal Government Spying on American Citizens

WHEREAS, in 1978, Congress enacted, and President Jimmy Carter signed, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Pub. L. 95-511, Title I, 92.Stat. 1976 (Oct. 25, 1978) in response to revelations in 1976 of the federal government's widespread abuse of surveillance and intelligence powers against Americans during the Cold War; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP was investigated for .more than twenty-five years because it might have "had connections with" the Communists Party-despite the fact that nothing was ever found to rebut a report from the very first year of the investigation that the NAACP had a "strong tendency" to "steer clear of Communist activities.'' Senate Select Comm. to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans (Book II), S. Rep. No. 94-755, at 4-5 (1976) (Church Committee Book111); and

WHEREAS, during that time, the government gathered extensive inside information about NAACP lobbying and advocacy efforts through electronic surveillance, id. at 232, while the FBI's extensive reports on the NAACP were shared with military intelligence, id. at 81 n. 350; and

WHEREAS, warrantless surveillance prompted the government to take actions that undermined the NAACP and its work. For example, an FBI memo submitted to President Dwight D: Eisenhower containing misstatements about the communist influence on the NAACP "reinforced the President's inclination to passivity on civil rights legislation." Id. at 251; and

WHEREAS, other targets for FBI and/or Army intelligence collection included SouthernChristian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Council for Racial Equality (CORE), StudentNonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Urban League, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (AOL), and other activist organizations. Id. at t05, 167; and

WHEREAS, FISA prohibited any electronic surveillance of Americans for national security purposes except pursuant to carefully calibrated statutory protections; and

WHEREAS, in 2001 President Bush authorized a new classified National Security Agency (NSA) program under which that agency intercepts international telephone and internet communications by American citizens and residents without a judicial warrant or other judicial sign-off; and

WHEREAS, the. First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law, abridging the freedom of speech or the press;" and

WHEREAS, the Fourth Amendment provides that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized;" and

WHEREAS, individuals have a constitutionally protected privacy interest in the content of their telephone calls Katz v. UnitedStates, 389 U.S. 347 ( 196.7); and

WHEREAS, FISA is the statute that governs NSA's spying and it authorizes the government to conduct surveillance in certain situations without meeting all of the requirements of the Fourth Amendment that apply under criminal law. Instead, FISA requires that an independent FISACourt oversee that surveillance; and

WHEREAS, one of the objectives of the NAACP is to "educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful junction to secure the exercise thereof." Constitution of the NAACP, Article II; and

WHEREAS, without immediate corrective action, the same pattern of abuse will reoccur; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP, in partnership with organizations and persons of like mind, urge the President, and Congress in its oversight role, to take such actions as to ensure that any government program of spying is structured and implemented in a manner that complies with constitutional protections of privacy, speech, and association, as well as protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.