By April Short
People in pink appeared with drones, tracking devices, and magnifying glasses on the doorstep of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco mansion on Saturday, June 15. The group was organized by the women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization, Code Pink.
Their mission? To protest the Calif. senator’s accusation of treason aimed at 29-year-old whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Snowden leaked information about the vast surveillance networks the Pentagon’s spy agencies—particularly the National Security Agency (NSA)—are using to spy on US citizens, including top-secret details on the government’s collection of Americans’ phone and Internet records. The young whistleblower sought refuge in Hong Kong following the leak, and has been accused of spying for China, though he adamently denies the charge.
“Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped,” Snowden told The Guardian, which held a live chat on its website. Snowden also told The Guardian the US government “is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me.”
Snowded’s leak revealed that the U.S. government extracts private audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs, allowing analysts to track any person’s movements and contacts over time. Using the surveillance programs, any individual’s private communications, both abroad and in the US, can be swept even without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.
Nancy Mancias of Code Pink told AlterNet the protesters employed “guerrilla theater,” complete with costumes, props and music, “in a farcical manner” in order to relay the seriousness of the issue at stake.
Oustide of Feinstein’s mansion, Code Pink proclaimed: “Whistleblowing is Not Treason!” They called out the senator—chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee—for having known for years of the extent of the surveillance programs.
“What Edward Snowden did was not treason,” Mancias told AlterNet. “It was a tremendous public service at the expense of his own career and his own future.”
Mancias continued, “What the NSA has been doing in its surveillance program is un-American. The NSA is abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Americans. … This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy.”
Protesters demanded Feinstein push for an immediate halt of the surveillance of US citizens. The activists also demanded Feinstein provide full public accounting of the NSA and FBI’s data collection programs.
Mancias told AlterNet the surveillance programs are unconstitutional and in violation of both the First and Fourth Ammendments to the US Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect the right to privacy.
“Americans deserve government transparency and personal privacy,” she said.
Three Code Pink members held their magnifying glasses up to Feinstein’s door, in a satirical attempt to draw the senator’s attention, imploring her to support, rather than criminalize, whistleblowers.