updated 10:00 am EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
Activist group fights for transparency
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reportedly won a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department, forcing the agency to make public "hundreds of pages" of documents. The activist group requested material relevant to the government's previously secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which covers collection of "tangible things" related to investigations.
"While we applaud the government for finally releasing the opinions, it is not simply a case of magnanimity," the EFF wrote in a blog post. "The Justice Department is releasing this information because a court has ordered it to do so in response to EFF's FOIA lawsuit, which was filed on the tenth anniversary of the enactment of the Patriot Act--nearly two years ago."
The activist group notes that the government fought to keep its interpretations secret, however the Snowden leaks served as a turning point for the litigation. Coincidentally on the same day of the FOIA case win, Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner submitted an amicus brief that challenges the government's apparent interpretation of Section 215 as an overreach that violates the intended use for the law.
The documents will include orders and opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued between 2004 and 2011, and other "significant documents, procedures, or legal analyses incorporated into FISC opinions or orders and treated as binding by the Department of Justice or the National Security Agency."
The Justice Department has yet to release the documents.