A coalition of nearly 50 organizations dedicated to promoting greater transparency and government accountability, including The Constitution Project, is urging President Obama to curb the “secret law” that enabled the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to become much broader and more invasive than previously known.
In a letter delivered to the White House on October 21, the coalition called on the president to address the issue at the Open Government Partnership meeting in London. Specifically, the groups asked the president to commit to giving the public substantial access to documents that significantly interpret laws authorizing the intelligence community’s surveillance programs, including – but not limited to – legal interpretations by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
The groups warned that reliance on secret law threatens the integrity of individual liberty at home and damages the US’s reputation abroad. TCP and the open government coalition urged President Obama to use the meeting in London as a platform to start an informed discussion about the bounds and limits of excessive secrecy, and to rebuild trust both domestically and with our international partners.
TCP’s Liberty and Security Committee has long advocated reining in excessive government secrecy and striking a balance between public accountability and national security.