October 27, 2020
The Honorable Anna Eshoo
202 Cannon House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Eshoo:
Thank you for your leadership investigating executive branch surveillance of protesters, Congress, and the Supreme Court of the United States. We share your urgent concerns about recent reports revealing that surveillance has been deployed against the Black Lives Matter movement and that NSA workers and contractors such as Edward Snowden had the ability to surveil Members of Congress and others simply by querying for their communications, potentially already stored in intelligence agencies’ ballooning databases.
Your office’s inquiry to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency builds critical foundation for the ongoing debate around domestic surveillance conducted for intelligence purposes, for both your colleagues and the hundreds of millions of people in the United States who have been wrongly swept up by the government’s mass surveillance practices, including so-called “targeted” surveillance activities that target people based on their race, religion or other unlawful characteristic.
By subsequently calling for the Acting Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to investigate this surveillance, you have advanced this effort by making clear Congress will not and must not sit by as the executive branch secretly claims ever-expanding authority to conduct domestic surveillance. Your request to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board for investigation of the surveillance of protesters further demonstrates that there are paths to the answers we all seek, if there is the will to find them. The government’s claims of authority to conduct the surveillance at hand are evasive and evolving, but already they threaten to swallow the First and Fourth Amendments while irreparably damaging the separation of powers so critical to our democracy.
We thank you and your staff for your leadership, and eagerly join you in this fact-finding mission.
Center for Democracy & Technology
Defending Rights & Dissent
Due Process Institute
Free Press Action
Government Accountability Project
Government Information Watch
National Coalition Against Censorship
New America’s Open Technology Institute
Open The Government
Project on Government Oversight
Restore The Fourth
S.T.O.P. – The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project