A new survey shows that for the past 30 years, Congress has steadily passed an increasing number of “secret laws” — provisions that are kept from the public eye.
That’s according to an exhaustive study by Dakota Rudesill, an Ohio State professor of law. A former senior national security analyst for the Senate Budget Committee who also worked for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Rudesill notes that more and more bills passed by Congress include provisions that allow for secret elements — which become law without the American people knowing what they contain.
Secret laws often come about because of three enormous budget bills that get renewed every year, which fund some of the government’s most secretive programs and agencies: the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, the Intelligence Authorization Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act. Portions of those bills, which fund classified programs include provisions that “can reasonably be read to give a classified addendum” to U.S. law, as Rudesill found.
The study refers only to changes to U.S. law that come through acts of Congress. A president’s executive order can also shape U.S. law, as can the classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which secretly approves, among other things, warrants for NSA spying activities.