Government Justice

Intense Public Interest Over Mass Surveillance, Judge Orders DOJ to Turn Over Secret Legal Opinions

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A victory in EFF’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DOJ prevailed today when a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to hand over key opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as the “FISA court”).

The judge insisted that he must review whether information about mass surveillance was improperly withheld from the public.

The judge writes:

“The evidence in the record shows that some documents, previously withheld in the course of this litigation and now declassified, had been withheld in their entirety when a disclosure of reasonably segregable portions of those documents would have been required. Further, the withholding followed an Order from this Court expressing concern that the agency had failed to explain sufficiently why the withheld documents “would be so replete with descriptions of intelligence activities, sources and methods that no portions thereof would contain” reasonably segregable and producible, non-exempt information…”

“The Freedom of Information Act was aimed at ending secret law and insuring that this country have ‘an informed, intelligent electorate.” … In light of this public interest, in camera review to assure that the agency is complying with its obligations to disclose non-exempt material is certainly merited. Finally, as the parties have narrowed the range of documents for review, the burden on judicial resources is not significant.


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“Intense Public Interest Over Mass Surveillance, Judge Orders DOJ to Turn Over Secret Legal Opinions”