The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meets Thursday to prepare the annual bill authorizing the U.S. intelligence agency’s operations. During that “mark-up” process, Wyden and Udall will ask their colleagues to include a measure compelling the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to produce a “detailed assessment of the problems posed by the reliance of government agencies” (.pdf) on “interpretations of domestic surveillance authorities that are inconsistent with the understanding of such authorities by the public.” Wyden’s staff provided Danger Room with a copy of the proposed amendment.
Specifically, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper would have to produce “a plan for addressing such problems” with secret legal interpretations regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Patriot Act, the government’s two most important domestic spying laws.
The bill, though, doesn’t force Holder and Clapper to roll back those secret interpretations. They’ve just got to basically admit they’ve messed up. Even if Wyden and Udall can get their colleagues to sign on to their effort, it would be naive to think the nation’s top prosecutor and intelligence officer are so thick that they can’t find an artful way of saying they’ve done nothing wrong.