Despite the Obama administration's proclaimed commitment to transparency, the administration's approach to national security policy continues to send mix signals.
According to two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, under Obama, we have a secret court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) issuing a secret interpretation of a law (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) that gives the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the power to collect information on individuals in secret.
Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, known as the "business records" provision, allows law enforcement to obtain "any tangible thing" that is relevant to an international terrorism or espionage investigation. Section 215 allows collection of information on individuals who are not target of a criminal investigation or even suspected of criminal activity. And, Section 215 orders come with a gag order prohibiting the recipient – which could be your library, your bank, your credit card company, or any other private entity – from disclosing receipt of the order.
However, this is just what we know from reading the statute. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) commendably sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder sharply criticizing the Justice Department's use of a secret interpretation of surveillance powers, and accusing the Justice Department of misleading the public:
. . . we have been concerned for some time that the U.S. government is relying on secret interpretations of surveillance authorities that - in our judgment - differ significantly from the public's understanding of what is permitted under U.S. law. . . . Justice Department officials have - on a number of occasions - made what we believe are misleading statements pertaining the government's interpretation of surveillance law.
- Former Classification Czar: Information Drake Accused of Retaining Never Should Have Been Classified
- Seventh Circuit Rules Rumsfeld Can Be Held Liable for Torture of U.S. Citizens in War Zones
- Thank You, Federal Court! Judge Decides Torture Suit by GAP Client Against Donald Rumsfeld Should Go Forward
- Drake's First Op-Ed Since Sentencing, When The Judge Slammed The Justice Department
- Tom Drake Post-Sentencing Statement
- Judge Has Choice Words for Justice Department's Prosecution of Drake
- Inspector General Report Vindicates GAP Clients From National Security Agency
- Newly-Released Inspector General Report Vindicates Drake and Other NSA Whistleblowers
- 3rd Time's the Charm in Subpoenaing Risen?: Obama's Continued War on Whistleblowers and REPORTERS