Judge In FBI Case Was Forced To Redact His Mocking Of FBI's Ridiculous Arguments
from the now-revealed dept
We’ve already discussed how Nicholas Merrill can finally reveal the ridiculous and almost certainly unconstitutional National Security Letter (NSL) he received 11 years ago while operating a small ISP, Calyx Internet Access. However, with that revelation also came the unredacted version of the judge’s ruling back in October. When we wrote about the October ruling we had mocked many of the obviously ridiculous redactions — including this somewhat iconic redacted footnote:
The Court notes that the Leahy Letter does not reveal the “180 day” time period in which the FBI sought order and shipping information from Merrill. The Perdue Declaration argues that if this 180-day period is revealed, then “potential terrorists” could manipulate orders to avoid having those orders fall within the 180 day period…. The Court is not persuaded. A “potential terrorist” does not know when, if ever, the FBI will issue a related NSL. The 180-day period clearly relates to the date Merill received the NSL, and it is hard to imagine any person outside of the FBI having the knowledge about when an NSL might be issued, and changing their behavior as a result.
Many of the other redactions just involve hiding what kind of information is currently being redacted, even as the judge wondered why such information was being redacted. For example, we originally highlighted this section:
… a potential target of an investigation, even a dim-witted one, would almost certainly be able to determine, simply by running through the alphabet, that “telephone number█” could only be “telephone numbers.” Redactions that defy common sense — such as concealing a single letter at the end of a word — diminish the force of the Government’s claim to “good reason” to keep information under seal, and undermine its argument that disclosures of the currently-redacted information in the Attachment can be linked to a substantial risk of an enumerated harm.
The judge also mocks the ridiculous fact that because the FBI is no longer using NSLs to obtain cell-tower location info, that because it might at some point in the future use it, such info should be redacted:
It was pretty clear back in October the redactions were ridiculous (as was the whole gag order in the first place), and now it’s been confirmed.