David Ingram reports:
The Obama administration on Friday urged a secret U.S. court that oversees surveillance programs to reject a request by a civil liberties group to see court opinions used to underpin a massive phone records database.
Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the court’s opinions are a unique exception to the wide access the public typically has to court records in the United States.
If the public had a right to any opinion from the surveillance court, the possible harms would be “real and significant, and, quite frankly, beyond debate,” the lawyers wrote, citing earlier rulings from the court.
The American Civil Liberties Union had asked the court last month to release some of its opinions after Britain’s Guardian newspaper revealed a massive U.S. government database of daily telephone call data, prompting a worldwide debate about the program’s legality.
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