An Additional Question about Openness and Accountability for Eric Holder

It appears that soon some news agencies will have an opportunity to hear from Attorney General Eric Holder about changes in the Department of Justice's guidelines for issuing a subpoena for phone records from news organization (though some news agencies will not attend because the meeting will be off the record). We believe that AG Holder should publicly explain the unconscionable intrusion into the AP's phone records and its surveillance of reporters with the New York Times and Fox. We also have an additional question that AG Holder should be asked to answer publicly about the Department of Justice's role in promoting secrecy and unaccountability.

  • Why are you preventing the public from reading and developing a full understanding of authoritative legal interpretations?

The public must have access to significant interpretations of our country's laws, including DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions and opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that significantly interpret the authorities and requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or other statutes, in order for us to have an informed debate about the government's policies, and build a shared understanding of the rule of law. If the documents are classified, or include unclassified information, an unclassified and/or redacted version or summary should be published.

As then-Senator Russ Feingold said at a hearing in 2008 (as quoted in Secrecy News), "Secret law excludes the public from the deliberative process, promotes arbitrary and deviant government behavior, and shields official malefactors from accountability."

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