OPINION: Too Many Secrets

Remember the Robert Redford movie — “Sneakers,” the scrabble game, and “too many secrets.” Well let’s follow the Department of Justice and its response to an inquiry by two senators about our privacy.

U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden have written this letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the Justice department of “making misleading statements about the legal justification of secret domestic surveillance activities that the government is apparently carrying out under the Patriot Act.”

The senators contend that the government has also interpreted a provision of the Act, based on rulings by the secret national security court, as allowing some “other kind” of activity that allows the government to obtain private information about people who have no link to a terrorism or espionage.

The Senators want DOJ to release the legal interpretations they are relying on to enforce the provision. Seems like a reasonable request wouldn’t you think? — They say:

“In our judgment, when the legal interpretations of public statutes that are kept secret from the American public, the government is effectively relying on secret law,” they wrote.

DOJ says, “the law isn’t secret, and therefore it’s okay to have secret interpretations.”

In other words our government says as long as a law is public, it’s okay for a secret court and the government to interpret that law in secret. To take that further, we can have a law that says you may not spy on an American citizen in this country without probable cause that your about to commit a serious crime and a Court order. The Justice department can with the advice and consent of a secret court interpret probable cause to mean — you jaywalked last year as probable cause to tap your phone, hack your personal computer, and tail you on your vacation.

DOJ takes the position that if a secret court makes this secret interpretation of the law, then their free to rely on this interpretation, and even the Senate who has constitutional oversight over the Executive and Judicial branch has no right to even know such an interpretation exists. Big Brother is watching my friends.

The Senators say secret interpretations of public laws render the laws secret. I agree.

Webb Hubbell
Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of the United States. He is an author, lecturer, and consultant. He is the founder of the Mark of Cain Foundation, regularly writes daily meditations at www.thehubbellpew.com, and is working on a novel soon to be published.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

The Day Ahead – May 29, 2015

The Day Ahead Logo

The Silk Road’s founder is sentenced in Manhattan district court, John Kerry heads to Nigeria and Thailand hosts a regional conference on its migrant crisis.

The World in 2:00 – May 28, 2015

The World in 2:00 continents logo

The U.N. says it will investigate its partnerships with FIFA after this week’s indictments against soccer’s governing body.

Feds Charge Former House Speaker With Illegal Cash Structuring

The U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. (Photo by James Cullum)

The Department of Justice and IRS charged Dennis Hastert, 73, with illegally transferring funds in an effort to avoid detection by the IRS.

UN Condemns IS Attacks on Iraqi Heritage Sites

UNESCO Executive-Direct Irina Bokova addresses the U.N. General Assembly before the adoption of a resolution on the destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage. May 28, 2015. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The destruction of Iraqi antiquities amounts to ‘cultural cleansing,’ Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador told reporters.

DC Metro Bans ‘Issue-based’ Ads After Muhammad Cartoon Request

The proposed ad depicts a cartoon that won the “Draw Muhammad” competition in Texas this month where two Islamic State sympathizers opened fire on attendees

UN Defends Past FIFA Partnerships

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) attends the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa. At right is FIFA President Sepp Blatter. June 11, 2010. UN Photo/Henry Romero.

Though a UN spokesman said cooperation consisted of ‘one time’ arrangements of a ‘pro bono’ nature, the world body will investigate its partnerships.