It is a truism of our system that Congress writes the federal laws. Hence, it has exempted itself from all FOIA and Sunshine statutes. Traditionally and historically, the give and take between and among members of Congress have not been transparent. Most laws are written behind closed door, and we never really know what compromises animate the legislation that is ultimately enacted. LBJ once said that folks should never watch sausage or legislation being made.
My own view is that this should not be so. Members of Congress WORK FOR US. Yet they have enacted legislation that permits federal agents to spy on us in our most private moments as well as in almost all of our public moments. Let's get this straight: Our employees are spying on their employers--the American taxpayers and voters. We should have cameras on everything that the government does: Every prosecutor who hides evidence helpful to a defendant, every judge who compromises away rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and every legislator who steals our property and crushes our liberty should all be in front of cameras.
About three years ago, I was speaking in Kansas to a large audience that included several members of Congress. After I told the audience that the Patriot Act permitted federal agents to write their own search warrants in defiance of the Constitution, and that it had been held unconstitutional by six federal judges but the government uses it anyway, these members of Congress approached me with bewilderment. They had voted for the Patriot Act but never read it. They had no idea the unconstitutional power it gave to federal agents. When I asked them how they knew what to vote for, they replied that they were present at SECRET BRIEFINGS GIVEN BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. There should be no such secret briefings. Transparency is a disinfectant for lies and corruption. We should all have been privy to those briefings; just as we should be privy to whatever Messrs Reid and Dodd and Baucus are doing to our liberty and our property today.