Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rokita Sponsors Legislation To Make FISA Court Rulings Public

U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) has filed legislation that would require rulings of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court to be made public. Rokita's Ending Secret Law Act would compel the release of the court's rulings "unless it undermines national security. That qualifier is the excuse the federal government uses too often already to keep government records away from the public's eye. NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden came under fire from national security advocates for releasing a FISA court order requiring Verizon to turn over the telephone records of its customers. The Northwest Indiana Times' Dan Carden reports:
"This legislation affirms that Americans have a right to know the assumptions and legal interpretations that are guiding our national security decisions," Rokita said. "Just as importantly, it provides that information to the public in a way that does not compromise specific security techniques."
Rokita has strongly criticized recently leaked National Security Agency surveillance programs, calling them a violation of Americans' Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
He said his legislation, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., would help correct that by ensuring "Congress and the American people exercise proper oversight, while still enabling us to do everything possible within the bounds of the Constitution to protect ourselves from those who would harm us."
A Senate version of the proposal is awaiting action by the Judiciary Committee.
Indiana's Sen. Dan Coats earlier this week accused fellow congressional colleagues like Rokita who have been critical of unconstitutional overreaching by the government, of "grandstanding" on the issue of NSA surveillance of Americans.

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