Hearings on Secret Laws Begin

As if it wasn’t enough that the government is spying on us with Presidential approval, it now appears the White House is secretly crafting laws that no one is allowed to view. So if no one sees them, how do we know they’re constitutional? Sam Seder recently talked with Senator Russ Feingold about subcomittee hearings held on this topic. This is all fallout from the now-infamous, secret John Yoo memo, which was basically an opinion piece issued by the Justice Department that interpreted torture in very creative terms and authorized its use against certain classes of human beings. A footnote in that memo referenced an earlier, still classified memo which indicated that protections United States citizens could normally rely upon against unlawful search and seizure within the United States borders might possibly no longer be in effect. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that the spectre of these two memos casts a huge shadow over freedoms that US citizens have come to expect as their birthright, and has decided to hold hearings on the matter of these “secret laws.” The thinking is that these two memos are just the tip of a very dangerous iceburg.

It remains to be seen how much “interpreting” the Justice Department has done, how many opinion pieces it has issued, and under what secret laws this White House (and by extension, the NSA, CIA, FBI) is currently operating.

Simultaneously, the FBI has apparently been issuing hundreds of thousands of National Security Letters to libraries, Internet Service Providers, credit bureaus, and financial institutions. In the case referenced at the link, a National Security Letter was issued to a library founder along with a gag order noting that he wasn’t allowed to contact anyone about the request except his own personal attorneys, “who were also gagged.” Fortunately, the library’s founder was also a member of the board of the Directors for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and thus had the weight of that organization’s law team behind him. The NSL was eventually challenged by the ACLU and the EFF. The eventually FBI withdrew the request and rescinded the gag order. Who knows how many other letters were not challenged? 199,999? It’s very possible. I’m sure the government will research to whom they issue these letters a little more carefully in the future.