Policy: National Security

Bipartisan coalition requests secret surveillance court opinions be made public

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,House of Representatives,Republican Party,Democratic Party,National Security,NSA,Ashe Schow,Surveillance

A bipartisan group of 16 congressmen, including Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Rush Holt, D-N.J., have filed an amicus brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court requesting the secret court release its opinions granting the collection of American phone records.

"Secret law is anathema to a free country," Amash said. "Congress cannot effectively legislate until it knows what the law is. The American public cannot engage in a meaningful debate about liberty and surveillance until it knows what its government is doing."

The FISA court is behind the interpretations to Section 215 of the Patriot Act that led to the mass collection of records on the American people. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first brought to light the issue, exposing the National Security Agency and its spying scheme.

The amicus brief requests the Attorney General release "significant" opinions to the public, which is currently not the case under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., who also signed onto the amicus brief, said, "It is absolutely critical that Congress and all Americans know how the government is interpreting the law -- especially when there are so many troubling signs of abuse."

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., added, "The right to privacy in this country is non-negotiable. While I believe that national security is essential, we must protect our most basic civil liberties and move forward in a way that does not sacrifice our American values and freedoms. We must ensure that we keep a better balance between our privacy and our national security by re-establishing and strengthening Congress' vital role of accountability and oversight of this issue."

The NSA scandal does not appear to be going away.

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