By DANA LIEBELSON
Today, a coalition of good government, taxpayer, and civil and human rights organizations from across the ideological spectrum launched a campaign to shine a light on the defense budget. Specifically, the groups are urging members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to open the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which last year authorized more than $662 billion of taxpayer dollars for FY 2012 but was drafted by SASC behind closed doors.
There's no good reason for SASC to mark up this bill entirely in secret. On the House side, the NDAA markup is open to the public. Before discussing any classified information, the House Armed Services Committee can easily vote to move into an executive session. Furthermore, last year, a SASC subcommittee marked up its portion of the bill in an open session. The public has the right to know where its taxpayer dollars are going, especially given some of the controversial provisions in the bill. For more background information on the NDAA, click here.
Also, check out the campaign's webpage, OpenNDAA.org, to see which Senators voted to keep the NDAA secret in the past, and which voted for transparency. Then, you can take action by signing a letter to the appropriate Senators encouraging them to vote against keeping the markup secret. You can also sign a separate letter to thank those members who have voted for openness in the past. POGO and allies will deliver the letters with the new signatories in advance of this year’s markup.
Taking action is a great way to celebrate Sunshine Week and demonstrate your support for transparency and open government—thanks for your support!
Dana Liebelson is POGO's Beth Daley Impact Fellow.