Sen. Richard Blumenthal is leading efforts to increase transparency in the wake of the NSA leaks last month, specifically through a push to revise the top-secret process the government uses to authorize domestic surveillance – including wiretapping and other forms of data gathering.
In a Politico op-ed published late Sunday, Blumenthal argues for greater transparency in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court proceedings. The court, which consists of 11 D.C. based judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, must approve government surveillance requests – and, as Blumenthal points out, does so nearly every time. In its 33 years of existence, the FISA court has only denied 11 of 34,000 requests.
“This secretive process has given us a FISA court in which, at the very least, the appearance of effective, nonpolitical justice is gone…the executive branch almost never loses,” Blumenthal wrote.
The system, while authorized by Congress as recently as last December, operates outside of congressional oversight and decisions are classified. Blumenthal in his op-ed announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would reform the process for selecting judges and change court procedure to allow privacy advocates a greater say. He has also supported bipartisan legislation to declassify major opinions.