Transpartisan Arguments the Government Won’t Want to Succeed

Justin Amash, Paul Broun, Tulsi Gabbard, Morgan Griffith, Rush Holt, Walter Jones, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Thomas Massie, Tom McClintock, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Pearce, Matt Salmon, Mark Sanford, Ted Yoho.

Well, that’s got to be a group of people the Powers That Be don’t want to see joining together?

Captain Tulsi Gabbard, Physics PhD Rush Holt, Appalachian Trail Hiker Mark Sanford, and Paleocon Walter Jones. With my libertarian Congressman, Justin Amash apparently leading the bunch.

All on a court motion together, calling for the court to release the FISC opinion explaining why the government’s Section 702 collection was unconstitutional because without it they can’t do their job. Which includes, in part, informing the American people.

As important, whatever information Members of Congress learn about secret FISC opinions and orders, they are unable publicly to discuss or debate them because any disclosure is still subject to secrecy requirements.

[snip]

In light of recent disclosures regarding the existence of a “classified intelligence program,” related to the “business records” section of FISA, the Director of National Intelligence has acknowledged that “it is important for the American people to understand” the limits of the program and the principles behind it.

[snip]

Notwithstanding the compelling public interest in an open debate about the scope and propriety of government surveillance programs authorized under FISA, even the amici — Members of the U.S. Congress — cannot meaningfully participate in that public debate so long as this Court’s relevant decisions and interpretations of law remain secret. They cannot engage in public discussion on the floor of the Senate and the House about the government’s surveillance programs. And they cannot engage in dialogue with their constituents on these pressing matters of public importance.

[snip]

Informed, public debate is central to Congress’s role as a coequal branch of the federal government. The Constitution acknowledges the unique importance of open debate to Congress’s role in the Speech or Debate Clause. Debate in Congress serves no only the institution’s internal goal of creating sound public policy. Courts have recognized a second crucial purpose of informed, public debate in Congress: to inform the American people about the issues affecting their government.

Now, I think they may overestimate the degree to which this opinion pertains to the Section 215 collection (indeed, if it pertains to Internet metadata collection, it pertains to Section 214 of PATRIOT instead). [Update, 9/13/13: I'm mistaken here--it was exclusively Section 215.]

And I think their Speech or Debate argument has confused people about whether these members of Congress have seen what’s in the opinion. Holt used to be on the House Intelligence Committee, but no longer is, so I assume none of the Members on this brief know what the opinion is. In any case, the House has much more restrictive rules about who can access intelligence secrets than the Senate.

But I am rather fond of the argument that Congress can’t do its job with all the secrecy the Executive is operating under.

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7 Responses to Transpartisan Arguments the Government Won’t Want to Succeed

Emptywheel Twitterverse
JimWhiteGNV Boy are those folks going to be surprised when they retire and learn that orange money isn't legal tender.
9mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @onekade Was worried Bill the Dog the Cat was feasting on them instead of mouses.
18mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @onekade That's really sweet but what happened to all the pizzas gf sent you?
21mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Vlad Putin right now: "Yeah sure they got my spies but can you believe NYers are stocking KALE to get thru blizzard? " (Knocks back vodka)
23mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz The weather here is overcast+disappointing as a host. Still, its 69º, where are Pats fans like @caidid + @robertcaruso ? Wish you were here!
41mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @AllThingsHLS Also. If Richard Sherman deflates Brady's balls, is it a violation?
46mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @AllThingsHLS Whu?!?! That's as bad as Bass buying Staropramen leading ultimately to Coors owning it.
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @AllThingsHLS You seem worried. You haven't bet any of Seattle's GOOD beer yet. I'd even be willing to bet MICHIGAN IPA, in honor of U Mich.
50mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @AllThingsHLS Nah. Ted Wells already said he won't be done by Sunday. You gotta face Brady, hot dog martini and all.
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @PogoWasRight The dog is currently on on the shit list. Not necessarily unusual understand you.... #ItinerantThings
57mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @robertcaruso: as @bmaz and I have repeatedly warned: the mark of an amateur is worrying about NSA. Worry about DEA. http://t.co/grjPERz
1hreplyretweetfavorite
July 2013
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