The Ridiculous Redactions The DOJ Required To Try To Hide The Details Of Its Google Gag Order

from the come-on dept

We already wrote a long and detailed post about the DOJ gagging Google for over four years, preventing it from telling Jacob Appelbaum about the government's §2703(d) Order for his Gmail info (a §2703(d) order is like a subpoena, but with less privacy protections -- which is why the government is a fan). The gag was finally allowed to be lifted on April 1st of this year, despite most of the key moments happening in the early months of 2011. However, as part of the agreement to finally unseal this document, the DOJ apparently required parts of it to be redacted. Perhaps that's understandable, but some of the redactions are so ridiculous as to be laughable -- starting mainly with trying to make sure that every judge and every DOJ employee in the documents is hidden away. Throughout the document, you see examples like this:
Of course, amusingly, sometimes they redact the phone numbers, and sometimes they don't. So I'm sure that's useful.

And, really, what sort of court system do we have when the judges get to have their names redacted:
And, of course, there are plenty of pages like the following:
But the truly hilarious redactions come elsewhere. For example, despite being mentioned throughout the document without redactions, the name "Wikileaks" is redacted when mentioned in the headlines of stories and URLs.
I mean... really. The redactions of those URLs? What's that about? Does anyone honestly think that people can't find those articles? For what it's worth: Yeah, that really stopped me, DOJ!

And this even extends to the exhibits of publicly available web pages, which the DOJ still needed redacted. This has to be my favorite:
Now watch as I blow your mind and link to: DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers and share the following screenshot I just took:
Even more amazingly, in the released documents, they redacted things in the article:
Now watch as I wave my magic wand... and unredacticus!
And then there's the fact that Appelbaum's own name is redacted repeatedly for no damn reason, since everyone has already admitted that it's him. This includes on public tweets, like this one:
It's like they're not even trying:
And this:
And there's an exhibit with the first of those two "tweets" redacted again:
Yeah, that's Wikileaks' Twitter account, which is kinda obvious from the background and all. But here you go:
The second one -- despite the claim in the document -- does not actually appear to be a tweet at all. However, it was stated by another of the individuals who the DOJ targeted with the Twitter Order, Rop Gonggrijp -- not on his Twitter account, but rather in a blog post about being targeted.

They even want Wikipedia redacted. I wish I were joking.
And that one even tries -- but sometimes fails to redact each mention of Wikileaks even in the references and links at the end. I mean, really:
All of this should raise plenty of questions. Beyond just the ridiculousness of the original gag order, it now appears that the DOJ is abusing the redaction process for no good reason at all. In some cases, it's clearly to avoid having any of the DOJ team or the judges criticized publicly -- because what kind of democracy or due process is there if we have transparency. In other cases, it just seems... to be for no reason whatsoever except "because we can." That's not how the judicial system is supposed to work. We have public courts for a reason.

Filed Under: doj, gag order, jacob appelbaum, redactions, wikileaks
Companies: google, wikileaks


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 11:45am

    Corruption...

    Our political & legal system is so rife with it people no longer even recognize what corruption is. In the same way that if you grew up in a society used to slavery then you think nothing of it and likewise people grew up in a corrupt one and no longer think anything of it.

    Hopefully just like slavery the people will get wise and try to turn back the evil... boy do things look bleak!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 24 Jun 2015 @ 11:46am

    I wonder if the same company that wrote the Redact-o-bot is the same one that writes DMCA take downs. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 2:27pm

      Re:

      I wonder if the same company that wrote the Redact-o-bot is the same one that writes DMCA take downs.

      At least the Redact-o-bot appears to have a little intelligence. (Very little, I admit, but still more than the DMCA takedowns.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 11:53am

    Excuse me while I bang my head on the desk...

    It amazes me that these DOJ idiots (there is no better term to describe them) actually still have licenses to practice law, and are allowed to work for the US Federal Government in any capacity! They are supposed to work for US, the citizens of the USA, and not commercial interests! Somehow, they must have skipped that class in law school.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DOlz (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 11:58am

      Re: Excuse me while I bang my head on the desk...

      Well they had to get jobs somewhere when Prenda thought they didn’t have enough integrity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 1:46pm

      Re: Excuse me while I bang my head on the desk...

      It amazes me that these DOJ idiots (there is no better term to describe them) actually still have licenses to practice law

      That is because the people of the states that hold their bar cards have not bothered to start the process of getting rid of the licences by bar grieving them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 11:53am

    Lets just face it...

    They just really like having a giant black marker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Lets just face it...

      They just really like having a giant black marker.

      They just really think you're better off not knowing about the gory details. You're safer that way. They might confuse you into believing impure thoughts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 1:20pm

      Re: Lets just face it...

      That's why you don't get drunk and fall asleep around them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Capt -- no, Corporal Obvious can handle this one., 24 Jun 2015 @ 11:53am

    WHEN are you going to catch on that's deliberately done to shift the focus?

    Foolish obvious deviousness gives obvious fools something other than the original substance, turns worries into chortling. It's Psy-Warfare 101.

    Masnick falls for it every time. He's a redaction magnet. I bet prints these and pins on wall of his cubicle, looks at them and just LAUGHS thinking how smart he is for noticing.

    Then there's the meta-shifting of running DRECK like this instead of substance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:15pm

      Re: WHEN are you going to catch on that's deliberately done to shift the focus?

      Shift the focus to what, genius?

      Please do tell!

      (I had a hard time figuring out what you're talking about because of the broken Chinglish you're using.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:27pm

      Response to: Corporal Oblivious

      Then there's the meta-shifting of running DRECK like this instead of substance.


      You didn't read the article posted just prior to this one, did you?

      Most people can see the ridiculousness of the unnecessary redactions AND the importance of the overall issue all at the same time.

      Nuances, still not for everybody.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Agonistes (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:00pm

    I'm sure the OPM hack info can "fill in the blacks".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:09pm

    It's probably just an algorithmic redacting, Masnick.

    Perhaps there should be a law that publicly available knowledge cannot be redacted? :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dakre (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:12pm

    So that's why they got hacked, the government agencies are incompetent (which we all already knew). China probably got a hold of their post-it notes when they threw out the trash, because they forgot to redact some obvious words.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DogBreath, 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:13pm

    What I'm placing my bet on...

    When (or if) the government mouthpieces ever respond to calls of overkill of the "REDACT-BOT":

    "Come on now, it's just a standard government algorithm that was tweaked a little too hard to the "REDACT" side. We'll do better next time. Promise."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 2:47pm

      Re: What I'm placing my bet on...

      I think you're spot on there.

      I think someone said, "Judge, we want all names of people redacted. We want the target's name redacted. From everything we unseal."

      And when you start with a set of strict rules, and apply them strictly, this is the sort of result you get.

      That is, I don't think there was ANY oversight of the redactions, just mechanical process ...carried out by human beings who care about keeping their jobs redacting documents.

      I can't blame them, I'm unemployed myself at the moment. But I don't think that is the sort of job I'd be able to keep. Insubordination, don't ya know.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ahow628 (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:23pm

    OCR

    Do you even OCR, bro???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:26pm

    Welcome to the Star Chamber

    The law is whatever we say it is, dammit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 24 Jun 2015 @ 1:26pm

    Springtime For Tyranny In The Once Was Republic

    It's amateur hour at the US Department of Justice (Ha-Ha) where petty tyrants masquerading as civil servants abuse the law in order to provide anonymity to themselves and their deplorable and wholly unconstitutional actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 1:30pm

    Maybe these judges names should be published in plain text with these articles?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Median Wilfred, 24 Jun 2015 @ 1:36pm

    PUBLIC COURTS = TERRORISTS WIN!

    We have public courts for a reason.

    We had public courts when we didn't have existential threats from Terrorists! Everything changed on 9/11! Now, we have to protect our shreds of decency and the safety of honorable public servants like AUSA and Judges with Anonymity! To claim anything else is to say that we're not at War with Terror! and the AUMF says that we are at war, so stick that in your pipes and smoke it! The people across the land raise up their voices in a terrible cry for a full measure of American Justice to be handed down upon the thrice-cursed Terrorists! We don't care about the cost, the LIberty Tree must be watered with the money of free men! Just protect us from the Terrorists! First Al Queida, now ISIS/ISIL/pack of winos! Saints preserve us! Hide the girls and pass the ammunition! PATRIOT Act is called that for a REASON people, and it's not freedom!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 1:44pm

    Yossarian, is that you?

    Is Yossarian working for the DOJ now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 24 Jun 2015 @ 5:15pm

    OMG

    OMG, At first I thought Mike hacked the DOJ computer database and stole the original uncensored documents which is highly against the law. But then I realized he used a magic wand to do it. Hacking = Crime. Magic wand = F'ING awesome trick. Great work dude.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 24 Jun 2015 @ 5:17pm

    Not redacted

    Sorry guys. None of the document was redacted. My two year old grabbed a marker.My bad

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 12:08am

    I'm so sick of secret court systems. It's outrageous that America even has secret court systems.

    This country has gone to hell in a hand basket!

    I blame it all on the secret legal system which holds itself in contempt of public records and shirks all accountability by spraying black ink everywhere like a scared octopus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GEMont, 26 Jun 2015 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      "... like a scared octopus..."

      Nice analogy - since the NSA has chosen the comic book evil empire banner of Hydra as their own logo. And it is always the greatest cowards - and those afraid of mass retaliation by their victims - who seek the pipe-dream of total, absolute security.

      However, the NSA and their ilk would more likely see it as:

      "Like a sacred octopus"

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    the threat to peace is the USA, 25 Jun 2015 @ 5:52am

    truth and fiction

    they do that you talk about what they did not the issue....

    they do stuff all the time like that...that is after all why sci fi was allowed to proliferate...it distracts a huge swath of population and by time anyone realized what the heck...its been too late by 2 - 3 decades....

    the only route of the usa citizens is sorry to say it revolution and its not quite there yet , wait 20 years and see how bad things really get.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ima Dork (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 3:37pm

    I nominate Unredacticus to be the new superhero our country desperately needs. The one that will rid us of the crypto-nazis, criminals, and cowpods that populate the Department of Justice. It, and it's staff, have become a threat to the common good. And this under a "liberal" president who fancies himself a constitutional scholar? Spare us, Unredacticus!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 25 Jun 2015 @ 7:16pm

    Barnum was an optimist. There's millions of suckers born every second.

    "We have public courts for a reason."

    True. But soon we'll have private courts, and that will also be for a reason. A different reason.

    Of course, nobody will ever figure that reason out because the fascist owned TV and News media will continue to repeat the same headlines day and night as always...

    "Trust us. Everything is fine. Don't worry. Nothing to see here. Go back to work."

    And we all know that the media never lies... and that "The government is just good people, who have our best interests at heart, trying to do a hard job, under difficult circumstances."

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:02pm

      by way of Mandated Arbitration Agreements snuck into TOSes and EULAs

      Don't we have private courts now?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        GEMont, 26 Jun 2015 @ 12:10pm

        Re: by way of Mandated Arbitration Agreements snuck into TOSes and EULAs

        "Don't we have private courts now?"

        A couple of them yes.

        There's the secret court that does the Vaccination Settlement Pay-offs for Big Pharma, to the parents of dead and disabled children, and the FISA Courts that rubber stamps the illegal shenanigans of the Surveillance Industry into legality, and the Torture Courts that cancel the civil rights of those listed for Extraordinary Rendition, and.... well, most of the other "Private Courts" are still pretty secret.

        Oh wait! Did you mean that our Standard Court System is no longer answering to the public, but now answers to private interests...

        Well that's just conspiracy-nutter talk. :)

        ---

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 26 Jun 2015 @ 1:26pm

          Re: Re: by way of Mandated Arbitration Agreements snuck into TOSes and EULAs

          Oh wait! Did you mean that our Standard Court System is no longer answering to the public, but now answers to private interests...

          Yeah, I'm sure the SCOTUS are all entirely dispassionately and objectively just interpreting the law as written by Congress.

          Chuckle. Yeah, and when one of them retires, there's a huge hullabaloo over who (as in, which party) gets to choose their sucessor. What's up with that? :-O

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            GEMont, 26 Jun 2015 @ 10:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: by way of Mandated Arbitration Agreements snuck into TOSes and EULAs

            "Yeah, and when one of them retires, there's a huge hullabaloo over who (as in, which party) gets to choose their sucessor. What's up with that?"

            Not really sure, but given the class of folks involved, I'd guess it has something to do with higher grade cocaine, younger bimbos and a brand new yacht.

            Just a guess mind you.

            ---

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Jun 2015 @ 11:14pm

              The class of folks involved

              Looking at the dissents of the Gay Marriage ruling, they aren't chosen for their ability to logic, or their consistency or their ability to act with dignity, because they don't do that.

              Not sure whether they cannot or choose to not.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                GEMont, 27 Jun 2015 @ 4:06pm

                Re: The class of folks involved

                Choose not.

                The dissenters drew short straws.
                The non-dissenters drew long straws.

                My sympathies go out to all the gay couples who want to be married - because this is a Hot Debate Issue, and will be used by politicians as a convenient platform for as long as they can keep it a Hot Issue and that means constantly allowing and then disallowing the law to perform such marriages.

                Marijuana decriminalization is now the same kind of Hot Issue that will bandied about eternally so politicians never have to actually discuss really important issues.

                There are so many of these Hot Issues that never get resolved on purpose.

                There should be an English Word that describes these phony Hot Issues that politicians prevent from being solved simply so they can use them as public performance platforms.

                ---

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Jun 2015 @ 4:32pm

                  There should be an English Word that describes these phony Hot Issues

                  Demagoguery.

                  From the active noun demagogue.

                  It's Greek. They were known and frowned upon in ancient Athens.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    GEMont, 28 Jun 2015 @ 11:38pm

                    Re: There should be an English Word that describes these phony Hot Issues

                    Demagoguery: a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.

                    Demagogue: (in ancient times) a leader of the people.

                    Perhaps I'm misreading this, but it appears to me that the act of gaining power through arousing the "crowd's" emotions, prejudices and fears, over a Hot Topic you intend to do nothing about, or "demagoguery" is actually just the standard process performed as a regular function by all Politicians or "Demagogues", as they were apparently known in ancient times.

                    In simpler terms, the word for gaining power through arousing the crowd's prejudices, emotions and fears, is:

                    "Politics"

                    Thank you. That was highly enlightening. :)

                    ---

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:07am

                      "Despot" and "tyrant"

                      ...were words to mean ordinary (if absolute) rulers.

                      We just had so many despots and tyrants who were oppressive and abusive of their power that they ceased to mean the benevolent and wise sort of absolute ruler.

                      And execution was a euphemism. Executing an order that regarded a person.

                      I suspect that whenever a requisition regarding an individual had to be formalized into an order, it was never a good thing.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        GEMont, 30 Jun 2015 @ 12:37am

                        Re: "Despot" and "tyrant"

                        Hmmm... so it could be honestly said then, that your general purpose average Joe Politician, is actually a despotic, tyrannical demagogue, and one would not actually be speaking an insult, or making a false claim.

                        Both enlightening and entertaining! :)

                        ----

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2015 @ 1:12am

    Redactio ad Reductio

    Nice try to redact publicly accessable information.

    At least we can see/research what they blacked out this time.
    When they black out official information (government eyes only) we can only guess.

    If your FOIA request gives you a dozen black pages, they could fill 99% of the pages with nursery rhymes and "quack, quack and a cow says moo" with on sentence of "We make the rules. Ben Dover" and we can be none the wiser for all their shenanigans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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