Transparency and Publicity in Deliberative Democracy

On the Very Idea of Secret Laws

November 22 -
 23, 2013

The Conference

In Philosophical Investigations, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgentein famously suggested that language is a public, shared phenomenon, and accordingly, that there is no such thing as a “private language.”  A similar doubt might be raised about the possibility of a “private law”:  Is a law that is not publicly shared a conceptual contradiction, in the way a private language might be?  What are the publicity conditions on the concept of law? How much transparency does the notion of deliberative democracy itself require?

The conference will consider the topic of private laws in light of the recent controversy over secrecy, surveillance, and national security.  Of particular recent interest are the debates surrounding the conduct of Edward Snowden and the policies of the National Security Agency (NSA).  We will also consider the secret orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as well as the secret memos authored by lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush and Obama Administrations, and will compare different methods of maintaining secrecy and their impact on individual privacy rights and on rule of law values more generally.

The conference will address these and related questions in an interdisciplinary roundtable format that seeks to bring together scholars and practitioners from different backgrounds, with an eye to both theoretical and practical illumination.


Friday, November 22

8:45 – 9:30 a.m.Breakfast
Silverman 147
9:30 – 11:00 a.m.Session 1 – From Private Language to Secret Law:  Does the Concept of Law Require a Public Social Practice?
Silverman 147
Moderator: Claire FinkelsteinReadings:1. Selections from Wittgenstein’s Investigations – The Private Language Argument Excerpt #243-271
2. “Private Language”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
3. Julian Sanchez, “Wittgenstein, Private Language, and Secret Law
4. Brian BixSecrecy and the Nature of Law
5. Duncan MacIntoshLogically Private Laws
6. Meir Dan Cohen, Acoustic Separation Excerpt 625 – 637
11:00 – 11:30 a.m.Break

11:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Session 2 – Executive Branch Secret Practices and their Conformity to the Rule of Law
Silverman 147
Moderator: Connie RosatiReadings:1. Christopher Kutz, “The Repugnance of Secret Law
2. Michael Skerker, “A Foundation for Government Secrecy
3. Peter M. Shane, “Executive Branch Self-Policing in Times of Crisis: The Challenges for Conscientious Legal Analysis
4. U.S. Department of Justice, Legal Authorities Supporting the Activities of the National Security Agency Described by the President
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.Lunch
Levy Conference Room, Silverman 245
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.Session 3 – The National Security Agency and the Concept of Privacy
Silverman 147
Moderator: Mordechai KremnitzerReadings:
1. Anita AllenThe Virtuous Spy: Privacy as an Ethical Limit
2. Anita AllenPrivacy Law and Society, P 458-461
3. George LucasNSA Management Directive #424:  Secrecy and Privacy in the Aftermath of Snowden
4. Joint Statement for the Record On Potential Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
4:00 – 4:30 p.m.Break
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.Session 4 – Keynote Address
Michael A. Fitts Auditorium, Golkin 100 Mr. John C. “Chris” Inglis
Deputy Director of the National Security Agency
Discussant: Mr. Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.Cocktail Reception
Davis Student Union

Saturday, November 23 

8:15 – 9:00 a.m.Breakfast
Silverman 147
9:00 – 10:30 a.m.Session 5 – Criminal Suspects and Private Citizens:  Inroads on Governmental Spying
Silverman 147
Moderator: Ted RugerReadings:1. Robert Litt, “Privacy, Technology and National Security:  An Overview of Intelligence Collection
2. In re Electronic Privacy Information Center, Cato Institute Brief of Amicus Curiae
3. Supreme Court of the United States, United States v. Jones
4. Excerpts from U.S. Government’s briefs in ACLU v. Clapper, No. 13-cv-03994 (S.D.N.Y.)
5. Brian Decker, “The War of Information: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and the President’s Warrantless-Wiretapping Program
6. Alison Smale & David Sanger, “Spying Scandal Alters U.S. Ties With Allies and Raises Talk of Policy Shift”, N.Y. Times, Nov. 11, 2013
10:30 – 11:00 a.m.Break
11:00 – 12:30 p.m.Session 6 – Spying and the Judiciary:  FISA and Other Special Courts
Silverman 147
Moderator: Sudha SettyReadings:1. David LinnanDeliberative Democracy Versus the Rule of Law:  Rasterfahndung and German Anti-terrorism Versus US Intel Approaches
2. CRC Report 40138, Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
3. CRC report 42725, Reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act
4. Title 50 of USC, Presidential Findings
5. An Overview of FISA Reform Options on Capitol Hill (Nov 3, 2013)
12:30 – 2:00 p.m.Lunch
Levy Conference Room, Silverman 245
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.Session 7 – Circumventing the National Security State:  Private Interest and Access to Information
Silverman 147
Moderator: Cary CoglianeseReadings:1. David PozenThe Leaky Leviathan: Why the Government Condemns and Condones Unlawful Disclosures of Information
2.Geoffrey R. Stone, “Prosecuting the Press for Publishing Classified Information
3. Kevin Govern,On the Very Idea of Compelling Business Secrecy Through the Law:  Obligations and Imperatives Regarding Privacy, Business Data Integrity Preservation, and Identity Theft Prevention
4. “C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data” NYT, Nov 7, 2013
5. NSA Surveillance: Telecom Companies Spend Millions Lobbying Congress To Protect Their Interests, Huffington Post, Nov 6, 2013
6. “AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Are Paid Cash By NSA For Your Private Communications” Forbes, Sept, 23, 2013


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Mr. Alex Abdo

National Security Project, American Civil Liberties Union

Mr. Steven Aftergood

Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists

Professor Brian Bix

University of Minnesota Law School

Mr. George Casey

Shearman & Sterling LLP

Professor Cary Coglianese

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Mr. Bill Craven

Federal Systems

Professor Claire Finkelstein

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Professor Kevin Govern

Ave Maria School of Law

Professor Amos Guiora

S.J. Quinney College of Law, the University of Utah

Mr. John C. “Chris” Inglis

Deputy Director, National Security Agency

Mr. Sean Kanuck

National Intelligence Office for Cyber Issues

Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer

Israel Democracy Institute, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Professor Martin Lederman

Georgetown University Law

Professor David Linnan

University of South Carolina School of Law

Professor Sharon Lloyd

University of Southern California

Dr. George Lucas

Naval Postgraduate School

Professor Duncan MacIntosh

Dalhousie University

General Paul Menoher

Paul Menoher & Associates, Inc.

Professor Christopher Morris

University of Maryland

Professor Jens Ohlin

Cornell University School of Law

Professor David Pozen

Columbia Law School

Professor Connie Rosati

University of Arizona

Professor Gideon Rosen

Princeton University

Dr. Harvey Rubin

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Mr. Ilya Rudyak

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Professor Ted Ruger

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Mr. Julian Sanchez

Cato Institute

Professor Sudha Setty

Western New England School of Law

Professor Michael Skerker

United States Naval Academy

Professor Martin Stone

Cardozo School of Law

Colonel Andrew Wilcox

U.S. Marine Corps Commanding Officer, NROTC

Mr. Jules Zacher


Additional Readings

• Barton Gellman & Ashkan SoltaniNSA Tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show, The Washington Post (December 4, 2013)

• Nicole PerlrothInternet Firms Step Up Efforts to Stop Spying, N.Y. Times (December 5, 2013)

• Anthony Faiola
Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden, Washington Post, (Nov. 30, 2013)

• Nicole Perlroth & John Markoff, NSA May Have Hit Internet Companies at a Weak Spot, N.Y. Times (Nov. 25, 2013)

 Sudha SettyNo More Secret Laws: How Transparency of Executive Branch Legal Policy Doesn’t Let the Terrorists Win Excerpts P 579-581, 588-601

 Ian Fishback
Great Expectations:  The Law and Society’s Ability to Generate Behavioral Predictions.

• David Pozen
The Leaky Leviathan: Why the Government Condemns and Condones Unlawful Disclosures of Information [PDF] Forthcoming 127 Harvard Law Review (December 2013).
Deep Secrecy [PDF]

• Marc Ambinder
10 Things You Didn’t Know About the National Security Agency Surveillance Program

• Sen. Al Franken
Summary of the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013

• Senate Judiciary Committee, Hearing of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law
“The Surveillance Transparency Act of 213”

• Scott Shane
No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.

• The New York Times Editorial Board
British Press Freedom Under Threat

• Marty Lederman
Just Security: Additional documents on telephony records collection (and much more) declassified

• Michelle Richardson
The Guardian: Feinstein’s NSA bill shows she doesn’t have a clue about intelligence reform

• Rep. Dianne Feinstein & Rep. Saxby Chambliss
Comments: FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act

• Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner
Synopsis: USA Freedom Act
• Janet Reitman
Snowden and Greenwald: The Men Who Leaked the Secrets

• Charlie Savage
Obama to Call for End to N.S.A.’s Bulk Data Collection


• U.S. Government
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008

• U.S. Government
S.1452, To enhance transparency for certain surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and for other purposes.

• U.S. Government
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) Act of 2001

 • President Obama
Remarks by the President at the National Defense University

• FISA Improvements Act 

• USA Freedom Act


• 9th District Court of Appeals
Mohamed v. Jeppensen Dataplan [PDF]

• US District Court- New York
Azmy v. DoD [PDF]

• US District Court: District of Columbia
Excerpt from “Al-Alaqi v. Obama” [PDF]

• Jim Harper & Randy Barnett brief to the U.S. Supreme Court
In re Electronic Privacy Information Center

• Supreme Court of the United States
Chisholm v. Georgia

• Court of Common-Pleas, Michigan
Entick v. Carrington

• Supreme Court of the United States
Ex Parte Jackson

• Supreme Court of the United States
Jones v. United States

• Supreme Court of the United States
Katz v. United States

• Supreme Court of the United States
Muskrat v. United States

• Supreme Court of the United States
Olmstead v. United States

• Supreme Court of the United States
Smith v. Maryland

Contact us

For any questions regarding the conference or registration, please contact: Jennifer Cohen at

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