Eric Lichtblau writes an article in Sunday’s New York Times that is worth reading because it provides detail on secret law and secret courts in America that President Barack Obama would rather you didn’t know. A FISA court of eleven justices, all appointed by the authoritarian Chief Justice John Roberts, have been authorizing massive warrantless surveillance programs that siphon up our phone calls, e-mails, text messages, not turning down a single government surveillance request last year.
But that’s not all; through unauthorized leaks of classified information, Lichtblau finds that the same court has created new law, ruling that if the government has “special needs,” the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution can be overruled. Until this secret ruling, that constitutional provision guaranteed that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Add on a layer of secrecy, which the Obama administration fought to preserve in court last week, and the result is that President Barack Obama and the U.S. Government are overruling the Constitution and hiding that behavior from you. Anyone who is caught telling Americans about the new secret law can be sent to prison, making the leakers to Lichtblau very brave indeed.
Now you know, at least a little, about what your government is doing to subvert the constitution. You don’t know what else is being kept from you. What are you going do about that?
This morning, the U.S. Congress returns from a two-week vacation during which much of this information has become public. Members of Congress can choose to address this constitutional crisis, or they can choose to ignore it. Which they do is at least in part up to you.
There’s an opportunity for every Representative and Senator to step up to the plate. President Barack Obama said last month he “welcomes this debate” on surveillance, but as he knows you can’t have a debate in politics when participants aren’t allowed to know anything about the subject of debate. The Ending Secret Law Act would rectify this. Introduced as H.R. 2475 in the House and S. 1130 in the Senate, the Ending Secret Law Act would, if passed, require the disclosure of the secret legal opinions of the FISA court to the public, with classified secrets blacked out. That way, the American people would at least be able to know what new powers the government has assumed for itself.
The number of the 535 Senators and Representatives who have signed on in support of H.R. 2475 and S. 1130 is so small that I can easily list them for you below. If you don’t see your two Senators and one Representative listed below, will you call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and inform their offices that you expect them to cosponsor H.R. 2475 or S. 1130?
Will you take this small but necessary act today?
Cosponsors of H.R. 2475 in the House of Representatives:
Rep. Adam Schiff (Democrat-CA, District 28) — principal sponsor
Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (Republican-MI, District 11)
Rep. William Enyart (Democrat-IL, District 12)
Rep. Rush Holt (Democrat-NJ, District 12)
Rep. Henry Johnson (Democrat-GA, District 4)
Rep. Walter Jones (Republican-NC, District 3)
Rep. Doris Matsui (Democrat-CA, District 6)
Rep. Betty McCollum (Democrat-MN, District 4)
Rep. Michael Michaud (Democrat-ME, District 2)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Democrat-TX, District 16)
Rep. Jared Polis (Democrat-CO, District 2)
Rep. David Price (Democrat-NC, District 4)
Rep. Todd Rokita (Republican-IN, District 4)
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (Democrat-IL, District 9)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (Democrat-NY, District 25)
Rep. Jackie Speier (Democrat-CA, District 14)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Democrat-MD, District 8)
Rep. Henry Waxman (Democrat-CA, District 33)
Cosponsors of S. 1130 in the Senate:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Democrat-OR) — principal sponsor
Sen. Max Baucus (Democrat-MT)
Sen. Mark Begich (Democrat-AK)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Democrat-CT)
Sen. Alan Franken (Democrat-MN)
Sen. Dean Heller (Republican-NV)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Democrat-VT)
Sen. Mike Lee (Republican-UT)
Sen. Rand Paul (Republican-KY)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat-NH)
Sen. Jon Tester (Democrat-MT)
Sen. Mark Udall (Democrat-CO)
Sen. Ron Wyden (Democrat-OR)