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House members call for the release of court decisions behind NSA surveillance

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The Hill reports that that a bipartisan group of 16 members of the House of Representatives continued to pressure the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court today, urging it to turn over rulings that helped lead to the recent NSA surveillance controversy. "The American public cannot engage in a meaningful debate about liberty and surveillance until it knows what its government is doing," Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) said.

The group filed a brief last week urging the body to publish its opinions, with any classified information redacted, on Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 215 has become an increasingly important focal point, as it is the law under which the NSA has been able to move forward with initiatives like its telephone metadata surveillance program. However, the decisions the court has made about Section 215's precise meaning and scope have been kept secret. Last month, a group of eight senators introduced a bill that would declassify the court's opinions on Section 215 as well.

"Our argument to the court is simple: secret law and legal opinions are antithetical to Congressional oversight and the democratic process," Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) is quoted as saying. "It is my hope the court will listen to this bipartisan request that these opinions be made public."