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
emptywheel So every male pol who says can't answer abt fracking or climate bc they're not scientist, assume same principle holds for lady part issues?
5mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @StephanieKelton How about when they dodge by saying I'm not a woma--oh, wait. They never say that.
6mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @CraigMWhitlock: At trial in Pentagon silencer case, it is forbidden to utter the words "Navy SEALs" http://t.co/ouAZoO1HpJ
7mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @bonedog84 It's not like they were gonna give campaign $$ in any case!
9mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @theurbansherpa Getting around to that. Stop pre-empting my tweets or I'll start talking about the bogeyman again.
9mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Maybe every time a pol dodges a real question by saying, "I'm not a scientist" if they'd donate $100,000 of their campaign $$ to STEM ed?
11mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @dakine100 Along with Cuomo, who should.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel How long until Ted Cruz says that Ebola being under control is an Obama plot to steal the elections?
16mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @mattblaze "Handled." You might inform him you weren't interesting in that kind of handling.
17mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @LornestoToledo And just to make sure on Coors front let's piss in it and call it Blonde. LuckOTheIrish! @PhilPerspective @bmaz @TimothyS
18mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Uh. How many politicians is it this year who refuse to do their job--policy maker--bc they're not scientists?
19mreplyretweetfavorite
July 2013
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