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.

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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 GrassleyFarmers: New Trump ethanol proposal reneged on previous deal Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate Positive quotes from Iowa senators disappear from EPA's latest ethanol announcement MORE (R-Iowa) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states 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 ClintonGOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' Hillary Clinton praises former administration officials who testified before House as 'gutsy women' Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart MORE and other top Democratic White House hopefuls have supported reforming the NSA. 

On the Republican side, Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington MORE (R-Texas) has co-sponsored legislation to change the agency's surveillance practices, while Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCheney unveils Turkey sanctions legislation CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump isolated amid Syria furor | Pompeo, Pence to visit Turkey in push for ceasefire | Turkish troops advance in Syria | Graham throws support behind Trump's sanctions MORE (R-Ky.) has pledged to filibuster any "clean" extension of the law.

Other White House hopefuls, however — including Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioChina's TikTok turns to former lawmakers to help with content moderation policies Hillicon Valley: Warren turns up heat in battle with Facebook | Instagram unveils new data privacy feature | Advocacy group seeks funding to write about Big Tech TikTok adds former lawmakers to help develop content moderation policies 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.