The following letter was sent on June 26, 2012 to Senators Kelly Ayotte, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Kirsten Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill, Jeanne Shaheen, and David Vitter.
Click here to download a PDF of the letter that went to Sen. McCaskill, thanking her for leadership on the issue.
Click here to download a PDF of the letter that was sent to Sen. Ayotte.
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||Essential Information||Open Society Policy Center|
|American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE)||Federation of American Scientists||OpenTheGovernment.org|
|American Civil Liberties Union||Feminists for Free Expression||Peace Action West|
|American Library Association||Freedom of Information Center||Progressive Librarians Guild|
|American Values Network||Friends Committee on National Legislation||Project On Government Oversight (POGO)|
|Bill of Rights Defense Committee||Human Rights First||Public Citizen|
|Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World||Human Rights Watch||Rights Working Group|
|Center for International Policy||iSolon.org||Sunlight Foundation|
|Center for Media and Democracy||Just Foreign Policy||Taxpayers for Common Sense|
|Center for Victims of Torture||Liberty Coalition||Taxpayers Protection Alliance|
|Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington||National Coalition Against Censorship||The Constitution Project|
|Common Cause||National Freedom of Information Coalition||U.S. PIRG|
|Council for a Livable World||National Taxpayers Union||Washington Coalition for Open Government|
|Defending Dissent Foundation||OMB Watch||Washington Office on Latin America|