2020 Annual Report

In spite of tremendous obstacles, including a global pandemic and an unrelenting assault on civil liberties from the executive branch and legislators alike, Defending Rights & Dissent made great strides toward our goal of making the promise of the Bill of Rights a reality this year.

We effectively killed Section 215, one of the most egregious surveillance provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Working with a strong coalition of national groups, and thousands of grassroots activists, we not only forced Section 215 to sunset, we’re forcing Congress to reckon with the vast — and unconstitutional — surveillance state they have constructed over the past two decades. Our decade-long effort to end the use of the Espionage Act as a weapon against whistleblowers and journalists has begun to bear fruit. Our bill, The Protect Brave Whistleblowers Act, was
introduced in the House just this past month.

Our advocacy against the dangerous “Countering Violent Extremism” program and other war on terror policies that alienate and criminalize the Muslim community was rewarded this year when President-elect Biden promised to discontinue CVE and related programs, and vowed to end the Muslim Ban on “day one”. We look forward to your continuing advocacy and support as we work to ensure that the Biden administration both fulfills these promises, and rolls back various rights-infringing policies and programs.

In 2020, we built significant momentum, having found effective ways to connect with new audiences and constituencies via an array of new outreach efforts and online events. 2021 provides an opportunity to capitalize on this renewed energy, and we very much look forward to bolstering our vanguard actions in the battle to defend human rights and bolster civil liberties.