Senators Demand DOJ Release Secret Spy Court Rulings
The senators, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, wrote:
“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”
The senators know of the classified rulings and accompanying legal interpretations because the government briefed some members of intelligence committees in February, 2011.
But the government has no plans to declassify and publicize the opinions and the interpretations of them.
The administration claims “disclosure could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States,” Arnetta Mallory, the Justice Department’s declassification director, said in court filing (.pdf) weeks ago in an attempt to beat back Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times.