Thanks to a court ruling issued Wednesday [PDF], the Director of National Intelligence now has less than two weeks to turn over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation some 300 pages worth of documents concerning the lobbying efforts of the telecom industry, which is seeking immunity from suits related to its role in extralegal surveillance. (EFF has itself brought just such a lawsuit.) The ruling found that the government has not provided any compelling explanation for its foot-dragging response to EFF's Freedom of Information Act request for the documents, and that "the public interest will be served by expedited release of the requested records" before the passage of legislation that could provide retroactive immunity. Since an industry lobbying to protect itself from potentially costly lawsuits is hardly surprising, the attempt to delay disclosure here actually leaves me more curious than I otherwise might be about the contents of the documents. Less interesting than the mere facts about who spoke with whom may be the rationale for amnesty offered by the telecoms: Since they should prevail on the merits if they acted within the law, it may be instructive to see precisely what they are worried about.
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