ACLU, Tea Party take on federal spying: 'They've gone too far'

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a top Tea Party organization are teaming up to pressure lawmakers to oppose renewing controversial parts of the Patriot Act that undergird National Security Agency (NSA) operations.

The strange bedfellows of the ACLU and Tea Party Patriots will be running joint TV advertisements in Washington, D.C., as well as the early presidential primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ads increase the political pressure on the Senate to rein in the NSA, and reflect the growing coalition that has risen up to oppose the agency's spying practices.

“The federal government surveillance program has collected records on nearly every Americans’ phone calls, emails — your most private moments — without a warrant, without cause and without your permission,” a narrator says in the 30-second ad.

Among those communications, the ad implies, are those between a doctor and their patient as well as a troop stationed abroad chatting with his daughter over the Internet.

“When Washington invades your privacy, they’ve gone too far,” the narrator concludes.

The commercials come amid a standoff in the Senate over whether or not to reform parts of the Patriot Act before they expire at the end of the month. Lawmakers are at odds over how to proceed, which has increased the chances that the law expires in just a few days. 

Versions of the new commercial running in Iowa and New Hampshire urge people to contact Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate panel reaches tentative deal for Kavanaugh accuser to testify Thursday Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Aide for GOP involved in Kavanaugh nomination resigns after past sexual harassment allegation surfaces MORE (R-Iowa) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford Pallbearers, speakers announced for McCain's DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony Tributes pour in for John McCain MORE (R-N.H.), who have appeared to resist reforms to the NSA. Both lawmakers are up for reelection in 2016, and Ayotte is seen as vulnerable

At the same time, however, the ads also serve to prepare Democratic and Republican voters in the nation’s first two primary states to oppose the NSA.

Polling released by the ACLU this week showed that voters in both parties overwhelmingly support reforming the NSA. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, 61 percent of voters believe Congress should “modify the Patriot Act to limit government surveillance and protect Americans’ privacy,” the poll found. Twenty-eight percent of likely Iowan voters and 33 percent of likely voters in New Hampshire disagreed, and said that Congress could renew the law unchanged. 

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE and other top Democratic White House hopefuls have supported reforming the NSA. 

On the Republican side, Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzViral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions MORE (R-Texas) has co-sponsored legislation to change the agency's surveillance practices, while Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (R-Ky.) has pledged to filibuster any "clean" extension of the law.

Other White House hopefuls, however — including Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' MORE (R-Fla.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) — have warned that reforming the law would risk jeopardizing American national security.