Feds Agree To Release Redacted Interpretation Of PATRIOT Act That A Month Ago It Said Could Not Be Revealed

from the ch-ch-changes dept

A month ago, we wrote about how the DOJ had told the FISA Court (FISC) that even though the court had said that its own rulings, which secretly interpreted the PATRIOT Act to allow for the bulk collection of certain information under Section 215 of the act, should be declassified in the wake of all the Snowden revelations, the DOJ had determined that it didn't want to release the ruling. Let's repeat the details here: (1) FISA Court issues secret ruling that totally reinterprets Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act in a manner that appears to be quite different than any plain language reading. (2) Snowden leaks a bunch of documents that reveal the existence of certain bulk data collection which has everyone up in arms. (3) FISA Court itself says that more information is a good thing for debate, and that it would like to release the ruling in question, asking the DOJ to do some redactions as necessary. (4) The DOJ says, well, given the choice, we'd just as soon redact the whole damn thing. (5) The FISA Court says, "Come again? You need to explain that some more."

Then, late on Friday, when the DOJ had to give its more detailed explanations, it suddenly reversed its position. It now says that it will drop its objection to the ruling being published, though there will be redactions. The DOJ claims that its initial reaction wasn't just to hide the full ruling, but that there's an ongoing investigation that it involves:
In its latest filing, the Justice Department explained the reason for its initial reluctance to have the opinion published: It relates to the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation. Some information in the opinion could tip off the subject or his associates, the Justice Department said.

"However, upon review and as a discretionary matter," the government said, it decided to drop its objection to the court publishing parts of the opinion, as long as they're not classified and don't jeopardize the investigation.
Of course, this suggests that their initial response, trying to block the release of any part of the decision was the typical kneejerk reaction of government officials to "well, keep this secret."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 4:01am

    what's the point of a redacted version? it will be a completely blacked out document! page after page of nothing that can be read! no one will still be able to tell what they have done wrong, if anything, or what they have even been arrested for! this has gotten totally out of hand! in a very short space of time we are going to be back in the days where the person with money always wins a case and the poor get strung up for even breathing!
    and remember who started this shit, people!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 4:13am

    It's absolutely disgraceful that a country by the people, for the people can't share information with its people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 4:41am

    ...as you were informed a month ago, these two "parties" are bantering back and forth, distracting you from legislation that is passing under your very nose that retroactively "legalizes" all of this behavior.

    In the end, you'll get pages of blackness, and a continuation of same said behavior.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 4:56am

    "Some information in the opinion could tip off the subject or his associates, the Justice Department said."

    So a law applied to everyone has to be hidden to stop 1 person from being tipped off?

    Or more likely people will see what they were doing and get very angry.

    I really hope it is the latter and not the former, because if we are wasting time creating secret versions of laws to target 1 person it should piss the public off even more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re:

    Why are you saying "back in the days..."?

    Regardless, there has to be some discretion towards ongoing investigations. It never excuse a complete refusal of releasing a judicial document, but it does warrent some discretion for redacting sensitive information.

    If they black out that much, well, either the people responsible for the redactions are incompetent or they are essentially still refusing to comply in which case a shitstorm is brewing from more than one side. Either way it is impossible to predict the future. Let's not get too carried away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    You're not looking at it from a far enough perspective. They quite clearly consider everyone to be, at the very least, a potential enemy, so the 'subject or his associates' is likely to be 'everyone in the US, and a similar number in other countries'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 6:38am

    The more realistic conclusion given the timing is that they're trying to bury it by postponing the release to right a Christmas when people are not paying attention.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 7:00am

    Oh come on , The truth is ..they didn't have a Official Version until someone asked .. then they had to scurry like little rats to get an official redacted version together .. that's why they refused for so long ..

    The blacked out(redacted) parts are the official space bar of the NSA™ ..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    artp (profile), Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    Even worse.

    If all they had to put into a court opinion of that magnitude was concerning an ongoing investigation, it kind of tips you off that they don't have any real results from completed investigations, now doesn't it?

    Makes we want to move to Bulgaria, where they can't afford this kind of insanity. Good old fashioned rifle butts, that's the ticket!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re:

    This from an organisation that has around 49 levels of Classified. I would argue that documents should be declassified unless they contain other nation's state secrets, regardless of how much embarrassment government suffers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    izraul, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Must be nice to be a criminal organization who can hide their activity simply by calling it classified!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    izraul, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Everyone is a terrorist, says the terrorists!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Foloowing Court Orders is Optional

    "However, upon review and as a discretionary matter,..."

    Ah, so as "a discretionary matter" they might consider following the court order. Not they have to, mind you, but just voluntarily, if the mood hits them to do so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    "However, upon review and as a discretionary matter," the government said, it decided to drop its objection to the court publishing parts of the opinion, as long as they're not classified and don't jeopardize the investigation."

    I think is clearly NSAese for "You will get nothing but fully redacted text.".

    The parts that are not classified, are the page numbers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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