Government secrecy

I think I'm going to use this post to plan what might be a series of posts about government secrecy. Just in the last few months (or even days), there has been a lot of news and discussion on this topic - and some interesting concrete developments.

For instance, it was announced today that the Supreme Court refused to overturn an expansion of the federal wiretap surveillance rules that was passed in 2008. By itself, perhaps not big news, but the reason is certainly big news. The plaintiffs (journalists, the ACLU, etc.) couldn't prove that they had been subject to surveillance, so the court decided they didn't even have standing to bring a case. Of course by the very nature of the surveillance program, subjects will likely never become aware that the government is monitoring them. That means that there is virtually no conceivable circumstance in which the law could ever be subject to constitutional review by the Supreme Court. This is part of a pernicious trend, whereby the government cloaks its action in such secrecy that no one can ever establish sufficient standing to prompt judicial review. It is an easy route for the federal government to follow to completely avoid the prospect of public scrutiny or accountability, and the degree of deference to claims of "state secrets privilege" is so high that essentially any scheme can be hidden in this way. And yet the Supreme Court has the temerity to claim, in the syllabus announcing the decision, that "Second, the holding in this case by no means insulates
§1881a from judicial review. Pp. 20–23.
" There's a lot to be said about this, and hopefully I'll get the time to write about it in more depth.

Some other topics:

* Government decision to release public research results
* DHS decision that the policy allowing agents to search laptops at the border doesn't violate civil liberties, and further that the review and the policy itself should be secret (the executive summary was released, but the review itself was not)
* Government attempt to prevent from entering the suit against Justice on behalf of a Carpathia customer
* Secrecy surrounding the drone program, and the decision to release information about Bengazi instead of the decision-making process on drone targeting
* Developments in FOIA litigation
* Recap of Obama campaign promise on government secrecy


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