FISA Court Says DOJ's Claim That It Can't Reveal Secret Interpretation Of The Law Is Wrong

from the onward dept

We've written a few times about the EFF's lawsuit against the government, trying to reveal the FISA Court's secret interpretation of the FISA Amendments Act (which is at the core of the NSA surveillance dragnet of all phone record data). The DOJ has warned how this would be the end of the world and, more recently, said that it can't reveal the ruling because the FISA court has said that it must be secret, while an earlier ruling from the FISA court said that the FISA court can't reveal such rulings -- only the DOJ can. The EFF sought clarification, and now the FISA court has more or less said that the DOJ's argument is full of it, and yes, the DOJ can reveal such things without violating the laws protecting FISA court rulings.
The Court disagrees with the Government that FISC Rule 62 prohibits the disclosure of the copies of the FISC Opinion to EFF under FOIA.... The Government contends that Rule 62 has the effect of placing copies of the Opinion in its possession "under this Court's seal."... The term "seal," however, does not appear in Rule 62, and contrary to the Government's contention, Rule 62 neither explicitly nor implicitly places the Government's copies of the Opinion "under seal."

Rule 62 contains four subsections, all of which generally concern the "Release of Court Records," but each address a distinct situation... None of these provisions is applicable here.
This doesn't mean the case is over, but it does mean that the DOJ can no longer use the excuse that even if it's required to disclose the FISC ruling under the FOIA that it can't because FISC rulings are secret under that FISC Rule 62.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: doj, fisa, fisa amendments act, foia, secret interpretation
Companies: eff

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2013 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Troll The NSA 7PM EST

    I think mentioning recruting, jihad and bomb were missing from the list.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.