The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
November 21, 2016
Dear President Obama:
On your first day in office, you embraced the goals of ensuring the public’s trust and strengthening our democracy in a memorandum on transparency and open government. As your administration winds down and our democracy faces strong headwinds, we urge you to take the following important steps to empower citizens, Congress, and the courts to protect our system of separated powers and make sure that our government continues working as the founders intended.
Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel Opinions
Formal opinions by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel serve as binding law for the executive branch, but an unknown number of opinions are not available to the public or Congress. Please identify the total number of formal opinions currently in effect, their dates of issuance, and subject matter. For formal opinions currently in effect that have not been released to the public, please provide a summary of each opinion, prioritizing those relevant to national security/ civil liberty matters. Please also withdraw or invalidate any remaining OLC memoranda or other executive branch guidance that could be used to justify abuse of detainees.
Significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinions
The USA Freedom Act requires government officials to conduct declassification reviews of each decision, order, or opinion issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that includes a significant construction or interpretation of any provision of law. The Department of Justice has argued, however, that the review and declassification process does not apply to FISC opinions issued prior to the enactment of USA Freedom in June 2015. Please ensure that all significant opinions are publicly released, regardless of when they were issued.
Read the full letter here: