Justice Department Fights Release of Secret Court Opinion Finding Unconstitutional Su

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    .....This important case—all the more relevant in the wake of this week's disclosures—was triggered after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate intelligence committee, started crying foul in 2011 about US government snooping. As a member of the intelligence committee, he had learned about domestic surveillance activity affecting American citizens that he believed was improper. He and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), another intelligence committee member, raised only vague warnings about this data collection, because they could not reveal the details of the classified program that concerned them. But in July 2012, Wyden was able to get the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify two statements that he wanted to issue publicly. They were:

    * On at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

    * I believe that the government's implementation of Section 702 of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.

    For those who follow the secret and often complex world of high-tech government spying, this was an aha moment. The FISA court Wyden referred to oversees the surveillance programs run by the government, authorizing requests for various surveillance activities related to national security, and it does this behind a thick cloak of secrecy. Wyden's statements led to an obvious conclusion: He had seen a secret FISA court opinion that ruled that one surveillance program was unconstitutional and violated the spirit of the law. But, yet again, Wyden could not publicly identify this program.
    "When the government hides court opinions describing unconstitutional government action, America’s national security is harmed," argues the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    Enter the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a public interest group focused on digital rights. It quickly filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Justice Department for any written opinion or order of the FISA court that held government surveillance was improper or unconstitutional. The Justice Department did not respond, and EFF was forced to file a lawsuit a month later.

    It took the Justice Department four months to reply. The government's lawyers noted that they had located records responsive to the request, including a FISA court opinion. But the department was withholding the opinion because it was classified.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics...tronic-frontier-foundation-fisa-court-opinion
     

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