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Groups Urge Greater Transparency in Government Watchlisting

The government’s loose watchlisting standards, revealed this summer, label thousands of people as suspected terrorists based on secret evidence. Innocent members of the public have no real process to challenge their listing. The standards are so broad that “individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists.”

45 Groups: USA Freedom Act a First Step for Surveillance Reform

OpenTheGovernment.org and dozens of civil society organizations joined the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) in a letter to members of Congress urging the passage of the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685) and outlining necessary reforms that go beyond the current legislation. Among other reforms, the bill would mandate the disclosure of "significant" FISA Court decisions, and allow disclosure about surveillance orders from public and private sectors.

Open Government Groups Make Recommendations to Classification Reform Committee

The Classification Reform Committee (CRC) is tasked with considering the Public Interest Declassification Board's (PIDB) 2012 recommendations and addressing classification reform more broadly. Five open government groups met with the Reform Committee earlier in September, and sent a follow up letter outlining crucial reforms the Committee should consider. The letter is available here

Coalition of Open Government Groups Confront President Obama On Policy that Frustrates Transparency

WASHINGTON – A coalition of 25 transparency groups and open government advocates sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to either “withdraw” or “provide guidance to agencies” on a 2009 White House Counsel memorandum that instructs all federal agencies to consult with White House attorneys on documents of interest to the Administration before releasing them.

What's the Legal Basis for Strikes in Syria?

Last night, the United States began bombing targets in Syria. Whatever the policy merits of these strikes, there are crucial unanswered questions about their legal justification.

Time to Open Up Party Conference and Caucus Rules

Twenty-five groups dedicated to openness and accountability asked the leaders of Congressional party caucuses and conferences to post their rules online. Public access to these rules would provide essential information about how Congress governs—how legislation leaves chambers, who may lead committees, and more.

Groups Urge Public Disclosure of Legal Rationale for Military Force Against ISIS

OpenTheGovernment.org and seven other groups urged Senators Robert Menendez and Bob Corker to press for public disclosure of all Office of Legal Counsel memoranda and other legal opinions setting forth the legal rationale for the United States to use military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Four Members of Congress join OpenTheGovernment.org and Other Groups In Seeking End to Secret Legal Interpretations of Executive Order 12333

OpenTheGovernment.org, four members of Congress, and over forty other civil society organizations wrote to President Obama and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) asking for a thorough investigation of the NSA’s surveillance under Executive Order 12333. The letter, organized by Access, states in part:

Presidential Libraries Donation Reform Act

The donations that fund Presidential Libraries are mostly hidden from public view. Giving to fundraising organizations for these libraries creates ample opportunities for influence peddling outside in the government’s highest office. The Presidential Libraries Donation Reform Act (PLDRA) would help remedy that. Under the PLDRA, presidential library fundraisers would submit quarterly reports to the National Archives and Records Administration making record of contributions reaching and exceeding $200.

21 Groups: Leahy's USA Freedom Bill Takes Steps for Transparency

Twenty groups joined OpenTheGovernment.org in a letter to Congressional leadership expressing their support for Senator Patrick Leahy's USA Freedom Act and asking for a floor vote on the bill

OpenTheGovernment.org did not support the USA Freedom Act passed by the House of Representatives, partly due to the removal of the bill's important transparency provisions. The Senate bill includes provisions requiring meaningful reporting on the number of individuals or unique accounts whose information is collected under surveillance authorities. 

Read more about the bill and reasons for the openness groups' support here

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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