Oct 172009
 October 17, 2009  Posted by  Business, Court, Featured News, Govt, Surveillance, U.S.

Richard Esguerra of EFF updates us as to developments over the past 48 hours:

This evening (October 15), the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice filed yet another emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit, asking for a stay of the deadline to release telecom immunity lobbying documents, less than 24 hours before the documents are due to be released to the public.

Almost simultaneously, a report appeared on Politico.com, claiming that the government will be releasing some documents, while fighting in court to hide the remainder. Despite this report, the government’s motion seeks to delay disclosure of all the documents, and no new documents have been released just yet.

For those following this saga, this is deja vu all over again. Last week, when the documents were due to be turned over by Friday, October 9, the government asked the Court of Appeals for a stay, a motion that was denied by the Ninth Circuit in short order. Later that same afternoon, the government asked Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey White for an additional delay, a request that Judge White ultimately denied, giving the government a new deadline of Friday, October 16, by 4 p.m. Pacific time.

This has been a long fight — since 2007, EFF has been working towards the release of these records after media reports revealed an extensive lobbying campaign seeking immunity for telecoms that participated in the government’s unlawful surveillance program. As we’ve said before, we look forward to receiving the documents and making them public so that they can play a much-needed role in the active congressional debate over repealing telecom immunity.

UPDATED October 16, 3:15pm: Friday morning, EFF filed opposition to the government’s motion. The government then filed a reply.

3:50pm: In order to give itself more time to decide whether to grant the requested stay, the Ninth Circuit Court has extended the deadline for disclosure of documents another week, until 5pm PT on Friday October 23.

Read more on EFF, Related Cases: FOIA: Telecom Lobbying Records

To which I say: Enough already! The role of the telecoms and any deals cut is a matter of public concern. This administration, despite its rhetoric on transparency, is following in its predecessors footsteps by trying to keep the public in the dark on vital issues such as the telecoms and torture of detainees. It’s time for the courts to end the secrecy. And shame on Congress for approving legislation that would pre-empt the Freedom of Information Act.

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