Dick Durbin: FISA declassification bill will be "ill-fated"

"I encourage this," he said, but added that he doesn't see it getting the necessary support from the White House

Published June 11, 2013 8:30PM (EDT)

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that although he supports a new piece of legislation to declassify FISA court opinions, it will be "ill-fated" without way more support from Congress and the White House.

"I encourage this, though I think it is going to be ill-fated," Durbin, the Senate majority whip, told the Hill. He continued that even if the bill, which has bipartisan support, makes it through Congress, he doesn't see Obama signing it. "I think they are going to eventually turn us down," he said, adding: "They are [just] going to say no."

"I have been offering these amendments for years ... and losing them, regularly," Durbin said.

The bill would require Attorney General Eric Holder to declassify opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes domestic intelligence operations, like those NSA phone surveillance programs revealed last week by the Guardian and the Washington Post, under FISA and the Patriot Act.

Led by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, two Democrats from Oregon, the legislation has a group of Democrats and Republicans as co-sponsors, including Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada.

In response to the legislation, Michelle Richardson, the legislative counsel for the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, wrote in a statement that the ACLU "strongly" supports it. "It is untenable to have a secret court issuing secret laws in America. Of course, the bill has safety valves so that truly sensitive information could be redacted from public view, and summaries can be provided if there is no way to release the opinions themselves," Richardson wrote.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Dick Durbin Fisa Jeff Merkley Mike Lee Nsa Ron Wyden Senate