Will the Obama Administration commit to making publicly available authoritative legal interpretations that are currently secret

— in order to begin to address domestic concerns that laws are being implemented in ways beyond what was thought allowable and to rebuild faith with our international partners?

I guess we will have to wait ‘n see. Quoting from OpenGovernment.org’s Oct. 29, 2013 newsletter article, “US to Outline New Commitment​s at the Open Government Partnershi​p Summit”:

Later this week the Obama Administration is scheduled to announce the US’ new round of commitments to make the government more open and accountable during the meeting of the Open Government Partnership in London. Due in part to complications created by the government shutdown, the US will not be unveiling its full action plan (the full plan will be released in early December), but US officials will be presenting an outline of what they consider to be ambitious commitments. The commitments that will be discussed during the meeting are expected to be related to modernizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), spending transparency, and open data.

A recent letter coordinated by OpenTheGovernment.org and signed by 45 organizations that work on a variety of issues urged the President to take advantage of the Summit’s international stage to commit to curbing secret law. As regular readers know, secret interpretations of the law have been at the heart of recent controversies ranging from opinions by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel memo authorizing interrogation techniques that many say equate to torture to opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that allowed for massive expansion of the National Security Administration’s surveillance programs. The most recent revelations regarding surveillance have raised serious concerns about what the government is doing in our name and the extent of violations of American’s privacy and civil liberties, and critical questions about whether the US’s programs breach international law. We intend to continue to raise these issues with the Obama Administration, and push for concrete commitments.

The embedded link in the above quote sends one to the press release for the Oct. 21, 2013 open letter. Here’s the list of signatories:

  1. American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
  2. American Civil Liberties Union
  3. American Library Association
  4. American Society of News Editors
  5. Arab American Institute
  6. ARTICLE 19
  7. Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  8. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
  9. Californians Aware
  10. Center for Democracy and Technology
  11. Center for Effective Government
  12. Center for Media and Democracy
  13. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – CREW
  14. The Constitution Project
  15. Council on American-Islamic Relations – CAIR
  16. Electronic Frontier Foundation
  17. Electronic Privacy Information Center – EPIC
  18. Essential Information
  19. Federation of American Scientists
  20. First Amendment Foundation
  21. Government Accountability Project – GAP
  22. Human Right Watch
  23. iSolon.org
  24. James Madison Project
  25. Just Foreign Policy
  26. Liberty Coalition
  27. National Coalition Against Censorship
  28. National Freedom of Information Coalition
  29. National Security Archive
  30. No More Guantanamos
  31. OpenTheGovernment.org
  32. PolitiHacks
  33. Project On Government Oversight – POGO
  34. Public Citizen
  35. Public Knowledge
  36. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  37. Reporters Without Borders
  38. Society of Professional Journalists
  39. Sunlight Foundation
  40. Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University
  41. Understanding Government
  42. Vermont Coalition for Open Government
  43. Vermont Press Association
  44. Washington Civil Rights Council
  45. Win Without War

Yup, AALL is not a signatory. — Joe

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