FISA Court Tells The DOJ That It Needs To Explain Why It's Ignoring Order To Declassify Surveillance Opinion
from the can't-just-say-no dept
Yesterday, we wrote about the DOJ responding to a FISA Court order that it declassify a FISA Court ruling on the interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (related to the bulk collection of metadata), in which the DOJ effectively told the court that it wasn’t going to obey. This was the extent of the DOJ’s reasoning:
After careful review of the Opinion by senior intelligence officials and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Executive Branch has determined that the Opinion should be withheld in full and a public version of the Opinion cannot be provided
Basically, yes you told us to declassify it, but we’ve decided that we won’t. Now, of course, the FISA Court itself is well aware what’s in that particular February ruling, and since it ordered it to be declassified, it doesn’t seem to think there’s a major reason to keep it secret. So, it took all of a day for the FISA Court to order the DOJ to at least explain itself better:
The government has provided no explanation of this conclusion.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that, no later than December 20, 2013, the government shall submit a detailed explanation of its conclusion that the Opinion is classified in full and cannot be made public, even in a redacted form.
Of course, in keeping with FISC tradition, this is a pretty tame response to the DOJ basically giving a giant middle finger to the FISC’s earlier order. And, again, the FISC knows darn well what’s in the ruling that the DOJ refuses to make public, because it’s the FISC’s own ruling. So they seem to think that there’s good reason to declassify it. Hopefully, the FISC will actually, for once, stand up to the DOJ, but I’m not holding my breath.