Restoring the Rule of Law senate hearings

While writing the last post, I saw in the same press release that in September, there was a “Restoring the Rule of Law” senate hearing which slipped under my radar.

In September, Feingold chaired a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law.” The hearing featured testimony and recommendations from about forty historians, law professors and advocacy organizations, including the head of President-elect Obama’s transition team, John Podesta. Feingold provided a copy of the written record of the hearing to the President-elect. The recommendations include:

  • Closing the facility at Guantanamo Bay – a step Obama has supported
  • Banning torture and establishing a single, government-wide standard of humane detainee treatment
  • Conducting a comprehensive review of Office of Legal Counsel opinions and repudiating or revising those that overstate executive authority
  • Supporting significant legislative changes to the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act
  • Cooperating with congressional oversight, including providing full information to intelligence committees
  • Establishing presumptions of openness and disclosure in making decisions on the classification of information and responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

I don’t know much about these senate hearings — this could be just a lot of talk that doesn’t have much influence on policy. But with 40 people giving testimony, including John Podesta, it seems like a pretty substantial piece of history. Maybe some ideas and priorities will trickle over to the new administration.

The hearing was chaired by Russ Feingold and is documented on his website.


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