Secret Trials, Secret Laws
You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know.
Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. Wyden (D-Oregon) says that powers they grant the government on their face, the government applies a far broader legal interpretation — an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified, so it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged. But one prominent Patriot-watcher asserts that the secret interpretation empowers the government to deploy ”dragnets” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.
Is the secret interpretation of this law justified by the law’s text? It could be, but if it is, we may never know. Is it consistent with the rule of law? Absolutely not.
The rule of law entails publicly known laws and procedures. To proceed on a secret interpretation of the law — in a secret court, no less — is to abandon all pretext that the people are sovereign, that they consent to be governed, and that they can hold the government accountable.
Seems like a perfect opportunity for a whistleblower. Anyone wanna step up?