[Ip-health] Sign-on: NSA/USTR surveillance of advocacy groups?

Robert Weissman rweissman at citizen.org
Wed Nov 6 06:20:58 PST 2013

Dear Friends,

Many of you have probably seen this past Sunday New York Times story describing the U.S. Trade Representative's Office as a "customer" of the NSA.

The story noted that the NSA's "huge investment in [data] collection is driven by pressure from the agency's "customers," in government jargon, not only at the White House, Pentagon, F.B.I. and C.I.A., but also spread across the Departments of State and Energy, Homeland Security and Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/world/no-morsel-too-minuscule-for-all-consuming-nsa.html?hp&_r=0

Among other disturbing issues, this raises the question of whether the NSA has been involved in surveillance of any of the many organizations working to ensure that U.S. trade policy serves the broad public interest rather than narrow mercantile concerns.

The brief sign-on letter below is addressed to NSA Director Keith Alexander and USTR Michael Froman. It asks them directly for assurances that our organizations are not under surveillance.

Please send your organizational sign on to Jessa Boehner -- jboehner at citizen.org<mailto:jboehner at citizen.org> -- by Monday, November 11 at noon.


Robert Weissman
Public Citizen

Dear General Alexander and Ambassador Froman,

The New York Times reports on November 3 that wide-reaching efforts by the National Security Agency to collect data are driven in part by the agency's "customers" -- a range of other government agencies that includes the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

In light of this and other disclosures, we are writing to ask if the NSA, or other national security agencies, have surveilled any U.S. organizations or individuals advocating on U.S. trade policy. We ask you to disclose any such surveillance, whether or not it occurred at the request of USTR; whether or not it involved communications with foreign nationals; and whether or not it occurred within U.S. borders.

Core American principles ranging from the right to privacy to the right to petition our government are at stake. Simply put, we believe that our organizations -- as well as all others advocating on trade policy matters -- have right to an assurance that their operations are not under surveillance by U.S. government agencies. We trust you agree.

We look forward to your reply.

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