41 Orgs. Call for Transparent Defense Authorization Process
FCNL is one of 41 organizations calling for a more open and transparent defense authorization process--specifically by opening this year’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the public. See the text of the letter organized by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) below, and the official letter here.
June 26, 2012
Dear Senator X:
We, the undersigned national organizations representing a range of policies, interests and ideologies, asked you and other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to open this year’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the public.
We thank you for voting to do so.
We are disappointed, however, that the majority of the committee voted to shield the debate on the Pentagon budget bill—a bill that authorized more than $631 billion in spending—behind closed doors.
The bill was not disclosed to the public until nearly two weeks after the secret deliberations concluded.
Like you, we believe that the public has a right to know how Congress is conducting the people’s business, particularly when so many taxpayer dollars and important wide-ranging policies are at stake.
Meanwhile, House counterparts allowed for public access to their debate and votes on their version of the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4310). The bill was made public prior to the committee’s votes, and the markup was webcast live. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) only goes into closed session when it’s necessary to discuss classified information, but debates the rest of the bill in public. This year HASC did not find it necessary to close to discuss classified information at all. It seems doubtful that the same spending bill could be discussed openly in one chamber but not the other.
Is there more classified information pertinent to the same spending bill in the Senate?
We think not. Even if SASC does need to move to closed session to discuss some pertinent classified information, that’s no reason to close the entire markup.
If the House can do it, so can the Senate.
Again, we thank you and the bipartisan group of seven other committee members who voted for more openness and democracy.
We will continue to press for the Senate Armed Services Committee to bring the NDAA into the light of day, and we look forward to your help in achieving this important milestone for our democracy.
3P Human Security
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
American Values Network
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World
Center for International Policy
Center for Media and Democracy
Center for Victims of Torture
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Council for a Livable World
Defending Dissent Foundation
Federation of American Scientists
Feminists for Free Expression
Freedom of Information Center
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Just Foreign Policy
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Freedom of Information Coalition
National Taxpayers Union
Open Society Policy Center
Peace Action West
Progressive Librarians Guild
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Constitution Project
Washington Coalition for Open Government
Washington Office on Latin America