In Washington, conservative and liberal groups have spent years locked in heated battles over the best way forward on such issues as economic and health care policy. But there’s a common enemy uniting far left and right wing groups: Government surveillance.
After the leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about sweeping US government surveillance shook the world in 2013, conservatives and liberals quietly teamed up to make sure that citizens’ privacy rights were kept at the forefront of Congressional debate.
Whether they were motivated to protect citizens from what they believed was unjust spying – or simply rein in potential government overreach – this unusual partnership they dubbed the Civil Liberties Coalition proved highly effective in launching grassroots efforts to press Congress to curb government spying. They count the passage of the USA Freedom Act, a compromise bill in June 2015 to address the government’s mass collection of phone call metadata, as evidence of their success – at least, in avoiding what they saw as far worse options that would codify the surveillance programs.
In this video, we chat with two members of the coalition, Daniel Schuman, policy director at the progressive group Demand Progress, and Josh Withrow, director of public policy at the libertarian group Free The People, about why they feel this kind of bipartisanship is essential in the debate over the best way to balance the country’s national security and citizens’ privacy rights in the Digital Age.