Credo Action

Tell President Obama: Come clean about AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help” the NSA

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Petition to President Obama:

"Tell us the truth about what the New York Times and ProPublica describe as an 'extraordinary, decades-long partnership' between AT&T and the NSA, and stop using the state secrets privilege and other tactics to block judicial review of unconstitutional NSA mass surveillance programs."

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    Tell President Obama: Come clean about AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help” the NSA

    The New York Times and ProPublica published an explosive expose detailing an “extraordinary, decades-long partnership” between AT&T and the NSA.1

    NSA documents note AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help” the agency spy on Americans, and calls the relationship between the NSA and AT&T “highly collaborative.” One document directs NSA officials to remember “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship” when visiting AT&T facilities.

    The American people deserve the full truth about this AT&T-NSA “partnership” to violate our civil liberties, and a clear path to hold the NSA accountable in a court of law.

    Tell President Obama: Come clean about the mass spying partnership between AT&T and the NSA.

    Thanks to whistleblower Mark Klein and a case filed by EFF on behalf of AT&T customers, we’ve suspected AT&T’s collaboration with the NSA for years. But the Obama administration has used the so-called “state secrets” privilege among other tactics to block court review of challenges to AT&T’s participation in unconstitutional spying on Americans.

    Now that the existence of this program and AT&T’s participation has been confirmed and widely publicized, the Obama administration should stop asserting that the partnership between AT&T and the NSA is a classified “state secret” and allow court challenges to mass surveillance to go forward.

    There’s precedent for the President coming clean on this latest release of documentation regarding mass surveillance by the NSA. After Edward Snowden's earlier revelations about a bulk collection dragnet that was sucking up the phone records of nearly every American, the President addressed the issue publicly and convened a White House review panel to make recommendations for reform.

    Tell President Obama: Come clean about AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help” the NSA.

    Congress still has yet to take action to end mass surveillance of the Internet. The USA Freedom Act purported to end the bulk collection of some metadata, including phone records, but that was a sham bill that simply shifted responsibility for storing phone records back to the phone companies — like their “extremely willing” partner AT&T.

    The executive branch has expanded the use and abuse of executive power to spy on Americans instead of reining it in – even though Americans elected a Democratic president who was a constitutional law scholar. With an out-of-control executive and a legislative branch unwilling to do its job, our only hope of ending these unconstitutional programs is through the courts.

    That’s why it’s so critical that we pressure President Obama to stop pretending that AT&T’s participation in NSA spy programs is a classified “state secret.” This, among other tactics, is how the Obama administration convinced the courts to gut EFF’s Jewel v. the NSA case to stop unconstitutional NSA surveillance. Getting the government to stop blocking civil liberties cases from moving forward is our best chance of winning real reform.

    We can make a difference here. Despite President Obama’s unwillingness to rein in the surveillance state, damaging public disclosures like the New York Times and ProPublica exposé have forced his hand in the past – but only when the public seized on them and demanded reform.

    It’s long past time for President Obama to publicly affirm the existence of the mass spying partnership between AT&T and the NSA.

    As a social change organization that runs a telecom (CREDO Mobile) to fund progressive activism, this issue is personal to us. We would never volunteer to help the NSA conduct unconstitutional surveillance. While AT&T has demonstrated “extreme willingness to help” the NSA, we’ve shown through our activism and our privacy policies an extreme willingness to fight the NSA.

    Please join us in calling on the President to let the courts do what the White House and our Congress are unwilling to do – end unconstitutional spying on Americans.

    1. Julia Angwin, Charlie Savage, Jeff Larson, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras and James Risen, "AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale", The New York Times, August 15 2015.