The secret court opinion the government won't let you read

Tom Jackson
Jun 10, 2013

 

There's lots of news coverage of the NSA spying imbroglio, and I won't try to duplicate the work of others by trying to keep up with it here. Reason Magazine's Hit and Run blog is keeping up nicely with all of the developments, and so is Slate. 

But one of my editors spotted an interesting article that doesn't seem to be getting much attention: A federal court issued an opinion back in October 2011 that the government hasn't been completely following the law in the way it implements FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

I hope I've summarized the opinion correctly, but there's no way to tell. You can't read the opinion and see what the court said. It's secret! 

As this article by David Corn of Mother Jones magazine explains, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act request at the Justice Department to obtain the opinion. That went nowhere, so the EFF filed a lawsuit to try to obtain it.

That's when the EFF ran into a new roadblock: The Justice Department says the EFF needs to obtain the opinion from the FISA court, while the FISA court says the EFF should try to obtain it from the Justice Department. So before it can try to obtain the opinion, the EFF has to get a ruling first on where it should go.

Corn observes, "As news reports emerge about the massive phone records and internet surveillance programs—each of which began during the Bush administration and were carried out under congressional oversight and FISA court review—critics on the left and right have accused the government of going too far in sweeping up data, including information related to Americans not suspected of any wrongdoing. There's no telling if the 86-page FISA court opinion EFF seeks is directly related to either of these two programs, but EFF's pursuit of this document shows just how difficult it is—perhaps impossible—for the public to pry from the government information about domestic surveillance gone wrong."

Has anyone in the Obama administration heard of the Star Chamber?

 

 

 

Comments

Contango

Merely a logical extension of the loss of rights, property and freedoms that were expanded with the advent of the Drug Wars.

"First they came for the socialists..."

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/arti...

@ Mr. Jackson:

I recently read that coincidentally, that the publication of "Nineteen Eight-Four" celebrated its 65th anniversary a week or so ago.

Centauri

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith...
Public Documents Contradict Claim Email Spying Foiled Terror Plot

http://leaksource.wordpress.com/
NSA FILES

http://rt.com/usa/anonymous-leak...
'How little rights you have:' Anonymous leaks more PRISM-related NSA docs

coasterfan

Yes, we know. It's always "those durn Democrats/Socialists/Fascists".

Except when it's NOT. Yesterday, John McCain was quoted saying that Republicans not only initiated the NSA spying while Bush was in office, that Congress knew about it and approved.

Then today, it's reported that it was a Republican who initiated the IRS targeting of TeaParty groups.

The really funny thing about the so-called IRS targeting are three little-mentioned facts:
#1 NO Tea Party groups were actually denied tax-exempt status as a result of the profiling. You heard that right: they were all approved by the IRS. Actually, the only group that WAS denied status was a PROGRESSIVE group.
#2: Groups who have obvious political purposes/leanings are not eligible for tax exempt status. SHOUDN'T groups (both conservative AND progressive) who have obvious political purposes then be denied tax exempt status if they apply as a "social group with no political purposes"? I'm not an IRS lover, but why are we attacking them, instead of the people who are actually cheating?
#3 Wasn't the IRS doing exactly what they should do, as a Watchdog entity, to make sure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, and to
look closely at groups (from either party) who try to avoid paying taxes? And furthermore, since the TeaParty campaigns on avoidance of paying taxes, should they (or anyone) be surprised that they would be targeted? Talk about deflecting blame away from the perpetrator...

Just another day in the life of Coasterfan...pointing out yet another the elephant-in-the-room to a party whose mascot is (ironically) an elephant.

Contango

@ coasterfan:

And by some strange coincidence, the symbol of the political party of those resident useful idiots who are defending the governmental overreach is a jackass. :)

The Big Dog's back

Ohhhhhhh the truth to righties is like a cross to Vampires.

Contango

^^^ “Keep imploding.” - The Big Dog's back, 6/7/13 :-7

Darwin's choice

Obamas hits just keep on coming....
Record number of firearms purchased since taking office
Record number of unemployed since taking office
Record debt since taking office
Record wasteful spending since taking office
Record number of government employees added since taking office
Record number of scandals since taking office
Record number of green energy companies funded then bankrupted since taking office
Record number of deaths in Afghanistan since taking office
Record number of workers who stopped looking for work since taking office
Record number of golf days
Record number of vacations
Record wasted taxpayer dollars on the president's family since taking office
Record number of bullets purchased by DHS
Record number of people that hate Washington since taking office

Darwin's choice

And another one, Coasterfan...be proud!!!
http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/0...

Contango

@ Mr. Jackson:

Elliot Spitzer's dalliances were exposed through the Patriot Act.

Cast a wide enough net and ya don't just get tuna.

Kinda reminds me of Arnaud Amalric's famous quote which became paraphrased popularly as:

Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out.

Contango

Kinda ironic don’t you think?

There’s Pres. Obama whining to Premier Xi about China hacking into U.S. databases, whereas hours before he was defending NSA snooping on citizens' internet usage, phone calls and credit card purchases.

Don't I recall stories about IRS employees stealing tax return info and using it for illegal purposes?

The Big Dog's back

So cupcake, you think it's OK for China to hack into our databases?
Forward Nazi.

Contango

^^^ “Keep imploding.” - The Big Dog's back, 6/7/13 :-7

arnmcrmn

Nothing is Obama's fault....nothing.

The Big Dog's back

I disagree. It's Obama's fault for trying to get along and negotiate with right wingnuts.

Contango

^^^ “Keep imploding.” - The Big Dog's back, 6/7/13 :-7

Contango

Sales of "Nineteen Eight-Four" up 69% on Amazon.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/sa...

They also may wanna read "Brave New World."

IMO, more likely that we will 'amuse' ourselves into a dystopia.

The Big Dog's back

Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep.

Contango

^^^ "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and drink more Obama-brand Kool-aid.

shucks

"IMO, more likely that we will 'amuse' ourselves into a dystopia."

Keep your " Booze goggles " on, Winston, they will make your world look better.

Contango

Re: " Booze goggles"????

^^^ “That was a pretty dumb comment.” – 4shizzle, 6/6/13 :-7

shucks

It should be "Beer goggles" but you drink booze. Get it?

Contango

^^^ “You speak an abundance of feces.” – 4shizzle, 5/31/13 :-7

goofus

Wasn't the IRS doing exactly what they should do, as a Watchdog entity, to make sure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, and to
look closely at groups (from either party) who try to avoid paying taxes? And furthermore, since the TeaParty campaigns on avoidance of paying taxes, should they (or anyone) be surprised that they would be targeted? Talk about deflecting blame away from the perpetrator...

Proof? and from something other than a DNC talking point

Darwin's choice

How about their releasing returns/records that greatly benefited someone.....? That is not the IRS's job. Security was compromised...that is against the law....how much is OK with you?

Contango

Re: "look closely at groups (from either party) who try to avoid paying taxes?"

The IRS apologized and said that their actions were "inappropriate"

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-1856...

End of story - they've admitted their guilt.

The MAIN problem stems from the 16th Amend.

arnmcrmn

Dont expect a reply from goofus....his comments fits his name very well.

shucks

-goofus

I can't believe it, I'm starting to respect you.

Contango

Funny, religious nuts with guns that feared the power and intrusive scope of govt built this country.

And then centuries later, along comes the idiocy of Obama-the-Clown:

"They'll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices."

- Pres. Obama, May 5, 2013

Why in the h*ll did our ancestors even bother fighting a war against the British?

deertracker

Obama! Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

arnmcrmn

Typical Response from someone who cannot debate. Weak sauce kid...weak.

Contango

"Previously to skirt around the law, the Brits were vacuuming up US calls and emails and the US was doing that in the UK.

Then each swapped and could claim neither violated their local laws. This has been going on since 911."

http://armstrongeconomics.com/20...

deertracker

Obama!!!! Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Contango

Re: "Obama!!!! Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

So your man-love crush is ALL ya got? :)

Contango

Re: "Obama!!!! Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Definitely NOT enough enthusiasm towards your Lord and Savior.

Where's the XXXXOOOO?

swiss cheese kat

Obama supporters are like mushrooms, always in the dark and fed a lots of sh^t.

shucks

Republicans + FOX NEWS = mushrooms