Dave Maass writes:
A federal judge today ordered the Department of Justice to hand over key opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as the “FISA court”) so the judge can directly review whether information about mass surveillance was improperly withheld from the public.
The order is another victory in EFF’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DOJ, which sought to reveal how the government uses Section 215 of the Patriot Act to secretly gather communications records from millions of American citizens. The suit has already forced the government to releasethousands of pages of FISA court opinions, internal executive branch reports, congressional briefings, and other documents concerning Section 215. Documents released as part of the suit have shown the NSA repeatedly misled the FISA court concerning the operation of the bulk call records program, nearly leading the court to terminate the program altogether.
EFF Staff Attorney Mark Rumold argued for further disclosure of records during a June 3 hearing in Oakland. The resulting order, issued today, applies to 66 pages of five still-secret FISA court opinions. While Judge Yvonne Gonzales-Rogers may ultimately decide the documents cannot be released, her order reveals an appreciation of the civil liberties concerns as well as skepticism of the government’s blanket refusal to release any portion of the opinions.
Read more on EFF, and congratulations to Mark Rumold for this great WIN!