FISA Court Admits That Snowden Debate Is Helpful, And That More Rulings Should Be Declassified
from the so-why-is-he-being-accused-of-espionage dept
The unauthorized disclosure in June 2013 of a Section 215 order, and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215. Publication of FISC opinions relating to this provision would contribute to an informed debate. Congressional amici emphasize the value of public information and debate in representing their constituents and discharging their legislative responsibilities. Publication would also assure citizens of the integrity of this Court's proceedings.Basically, the court is recognizing that the Snowden leaks have resulted in a useful conversation that has actually been hindered by the status quo secrecy of the FISC itself, and is moving to reveal more. It also recognizes that its own reputation has been trashed in part because of that secrecy. Of course, it could have (and perhaps should have) recognized all of this much earlier without these leaks. But just the fact that it didn't shows how important the leaks have been for an informed discussion on the matter.
In addition, publication with only limited redactions may now be feasible, given the extent of the government's recent public disclosures about how Section 215 is implemented. Indeed, the government advises that a declassification review process is already underway.
In view of these circumstances, and as an exercise of discretion, the Court has determined that it is appropriate to take steps toward publication of any Section 215 Opinions that are not subject to the ongoing FOIA litigation, without reaching the merits of the asserted right of public access under the First Amendment.
So... now that we've got both James Clapper and the FISC admitting that Snowden's leaks have led to an important and necessary debate concerning the extent of surveillance by the federal government, can we finally agree that he's a whistleblower... and also question why he's been charged with espionage?