Holder claims to favor greater transparency over surveillance

Attorney General Eric Holder says he wants to declassify information about the federal government’s surveillance. Included in his plans is to find ways to declassify the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance  Court which meets behind closed doors to approve surveillance in support of national security. (Bloomberg News, June 21, 2013, by Phil Mattingly)

A Senate Intelligent Committee  hearing on June 13 brought new scrutiny to the court’s workings including its secretiveness. Senators and others are concerned that the court, comprised of a panel  of seven sitting federal judges, rarely rejects a government request and has without public oversight created a vast new unpublished body of law on government surveillance of citizens. (The Washington Post, June 22, 2013, by Peter Wallsten, Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites)

In the meantime, Google filed a motion with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court challenging the order that prevents them from discussing the nature of the information they are forced to provide to the federal government. Google is concerned about its reputation in the domestic spying scandal over the Snowden revelations of widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens. (The Washington Post, June 18, 2013, by Craig Timberg and Cecilia Kang) -db