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(NECN/NBC News: Brian Mooar, Washington) - Leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have led to a diplomatic disaster with no end in sight.
But many Americans are more worried about who's being snooped on at home.
The turnout was modest, but these protesters say they came to Washington to speak up for every American worried about being listened to by the NSA.
"Stop Watching Us," the group behind this rally, says it is gathering momentum and has collected half a million signatures.
"I don't think it's important for our government to know what we're doing everyday," said protester Joe Brown.
One organizer read a message from Snowden, the former contractor whose leaks exposed some of the NSA's most secret data-gathering programs.
"We're here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators," said Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project.
The protest was held on the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act, which vastly expanded the information-gathering ability of U.S. government agencies. But the scope of the NSA's snooping has shocked the world.
"This is a slap in the face to everyone who believes in the Constitution," said former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.
These protesters say the NSA has crossed the line, and are sending a loud, clear message to an agency known for listening.