EFF Gets Secret Interpretation Of FISA Spying Law… And It's Almost Entirely Redacted

from the but-not-completely dept

We’ve talked about the absolute ridiculousness of having a secret interpretation of a US law on surveillance such that the law actually means something different than what most people (including the politicians voting on it) think it means — and yet the secret law remains in place for entirely secret reasons. The EFF, as part of an ongoing dispute over all of this, had submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request concerning some testimony on that secret interpretation, and it got back a “relevant” document… which as almost entirely redacted. Here’s a sample page.

Much of it is blocked as “non-responsive” but the “responsive” section is basically entirely blacked out. The only text of the entire document that’s available (other than the cover page) is:

The Government has provided copies of the opinions and the filings by the Government to this Committee, and the Government will continue to inform the Committee about developments in this manner.

It’s ridiculous to continue arguing — as Senator Dianne Feinstein has done repeatedly — that there is no secret law here. She’s being deliberately misleading, confusing “the law” with “the legislation.” The legislation is the text as written by the legislature, but “the law” includes specific rulings by courts on the legislation. The legislation may be public, but the law is not when the rather important interpretations of the legislation remain completely redacted.

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Comments on “EFF Gets Secret Interpretation Of FISA Spying Law… And It's Almost Entirely Redacted”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ignorance of the law is no excuse

But can any breach of this law get consequences? I am thinking, “Quis custodiet ipsos Custodes” or “Who watches the watchmen?”

Unless you can elect politicians for the committee enforcing the law, the law basically has no meaning. Even a politically appointed committee of politicians is a problematic construction unless there is some kind of reports available for the public and that will never happen!

Not even going to mention the insanity of letting politicians carry highly classified information. If you do, you are devaluing the information or corrupting the politician to not reason freely and thus removing even more credibility of the politicians, if they had any to begin with!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ignorance of the law is no excuse

In the case of FISA, the secrecy means that congress cannot hold the they cannot control the agencies they are meant to control because they do not know what they are allowed to do. They cannot even determine if they are telling the truth when they claim the court cleared their actions as being legal. The secret court decision has given the security services a carte blanche with respect to surveillance.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Ignorance of the law is no excuse

You make the mistaken assumption that they actually have to tell you what you’re being charged with. These days they can just hand-wave that ‘inconvenience’ away by uttering the magic words ‘national security’ or by invoking any of the other ‘laws are for the peons, not the ones in charge’ laws.

The Real Michael says:

Re: the reach of the law

They arbitrarily decide that certain individuals are ‘potential terrorists’ without trial and then place them on no-fly lists, which is completely unconstitutional. Thus far there’s several hundred-thousand people on it and none of these individuals know why they’ve been singled out. They even put war veterans on it, including one who’s disabled.

I’m thoroughly convinced that this government is evil.

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