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Policy Letter

POGO and Allies Thank Senators Who Voted Against Closing NDAA FY13

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.

Sincerely,

3P Human SecurityEssential InformationOpen Society Policy Center
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE)Federation of American ScientistsOpenTheGovernment.org
American Civil Liberties UnionFeminists for Free ExpressionPeace Action West
American Library AssociationFreedom of Information CenterProgressive Librarians Guild
American Values NetworkFriends Committee on National LegislationProject On Government Oversight (POGO)
Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeHuman Rights FirstPublic Citizen
Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free WorldHuman Rights WatchRights Working Group
Center for International PolicyiSolon.orgSunlight Foundation
Center for Media and DemocracyJust Foreign PolicyTaxpayers for Common Sense
Center for Victims of TortureLiberty CoalitionTaxpayers Protection Alliance
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in WashingtonNational Coalition Against CensorshipThe Constitution Project
Common CauseNational Freedom of Information CoalitionU.S. PIRG
Council for a Livable WorldNational Taxpayers UnionWashington Coalition for Open Government
Defending Dissent FoundationOMB WatchWashington Office on Latin America