October 27, 2013

Associated Press video.

An anti-NSA rally attracted thousands in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to protest against the organization's domestic and international surveillance. Protesters called for closer scrutiny of the agency and held signs that said things like, "Thank you, Edward Snowden" and "No NSA mass spying." The rally was organized by a coalition of public advocacy groups called Stop Watching Us, which aimed to deliver a petition to Congress on Saturday demanding an end to NSA mass surveillance. The head of the group Free Press, Craig Aaron, said of the protest, "This isn't about right and left—it's about right and wrong."

USA Today:

"Jesselyn Radack, national security director for the Government Accountability Project, one of the rally organizers, read the crowd a statement from Snowden decrying the government's ability to examine call records and internet transactions.

"Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong," Radack quoted Snowden as saying. She gestured toward the Capitol building behind her and added, "We are watching you."

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, one of the grass-roots groups that helped organize the event, said before marching from Union Station to Third Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Capitol that the goal is to put a face to opposition to surveillance.

Members have been lobbying this week for legislation to curb surveillance after a near-miss in July, with a 205-217 loss in the House, for a provision to block bulk collection of data such as phone records. The provision was sponsored by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who is scheduled to speak to protesters on the National Mall.

Other legislation is expected next week from Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., Segal said: "I think that what the NSA has been doing is so transparently egregious that we have a real shot at winning this fight."

Meanwhile, Germany is sending senior intelligence officials to Washington, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday, amid outrage over claims the U.S. National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

Among them will be the heads of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence services and the coordinator of the federal intelligence services, the government's press office said.

The trip comes amid a series of reports that have challenged relations between the two long-time allies. The latest is a story in the German magazine Der Spiegel that -- citing a secret U.S. intelligence file -- claimed Merkel's phone had been monitored for more than 10 years, stretching back before her current post.

The same database indicated the United States was spying on many others in Berlin's political district, at least up to when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin this year, Der Spiegel reported.

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