Senators ask Obama administration what he thinks ‘Patriot Act’ means
Techdirt, doing the job the MSM drags their heels on:
Over the last year or so, we’ve been covering Senator Ron Wyden’s efforts to get Obama administration officials to come public with their secret interpretation of the Patriot Act. Wyden, of course, cannot say how they’re interpreting the Patriot Act, though there have been clues, suggesting an extremely broad interpretation, that effectively allows them to spy on Americans, in direct contrast to the way most people (including many in Congress) believe the law allows. In the past, intelligence officials have basically said that they will not reveal how they interpret the Patriot Act because they don’t want to, and doing so might reveal some of the details of how they spy on people.
Of course, keeping certain details secret concerning specific operations to monitor threats is reasonable. But a secret interpretation of the law that appears to go against what the law says directly? That’s not acceptable. If the government can just make up how it interprets laws, and then keep those interpretations secret, we no longer have representative democracy at all. We have a sham government.
Given all of this, the NY Times and the ACLU sued the government for failing to reveal its interpretation of the law under a Freedom of Information Act. The administration is now seeking to get the two lawsuits dismissed… leading Senators Wyden and Udall to send a rather direct and forceful letter to Attorney General Holder questioning this move.
We would also note that in recent months we have grown increasingly skeptical about the actual value of the “intelligence collection operation” discussed in the Justice Department’s recent court filing regarding the pending lawsuits. This has come as a surprise to us, as we were initially inclined to take the executive branch’s assertions about the importance of this “operation” at face value. We will provide more detail about this skepticism in classified correspondence.
Go read the rest of this excellent piece. You question the timing? It may have something to do with this.
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