Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageOp-Ed: Snowden document release prompts FISA court to demand disclosure

By Ken Hanly     Sep 14, 2013 in Politics
Washington - The court overseeing US surveillance by NSA has demanded that the government review for declassification a set of rulings about the agency's bulk collection of American phone records.
The court acknowledged that whistle blower Edward Snowden's release of classified documents had sparked an important public debate. This is precisely the sort of debate that the Obama administration did not want. Even the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who was found to have lied to Congress about NSA surveillance, grudgingly admitted that Snowden's releases had forced the debate on the issue.
Clapper said that NSA is likely to lose some of its power to collect data on Americans. Clapper even gave credit to Snowden for the development: "As loath as I am to give any credit to what's happened here, I think it's clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen.If there's a good side to this, maybe that's it." Clapper actually deserves some recognition as well for being an official willing to admit he lied and now giving credit to a person who most in the Obama administration, no doubt including himself, would love to see behind bars rather than a refugee in Russia.
The FISA court(FSC) has ordered the US Justice Department to disclose the court's own rulings after May 2011. The rulings concern a section of the Patriot Act that was used by NSA to justify its own practice in establishing a mass database of American phone meta-data. This is the second time in a week that courts have struck a blow against the extreme opposition against transparency of the Obama administration.
On Tuesday (September 10) a federal court in New York ordered the government to declassify numerous documents that show substantial tension between federal authorities and the surveillance court over the years. The Obama government clearly wanted to keep all this under wraps while trumpeting the oversight and legality of NSA surveillance.
On Friday (September 13), Judge Dennis Saylor ruled that the American Civil Liberties Unions and other litigants, could seek disclosure of the FISA court's interpretations of section 215 of the Patriot Act. The judge rejected a contention from the Justice Department and ruled that keeping the documents from the ACLU, "constitutes a concrete and particularized injury in fact to the ACLU". The judge also credited the release of documents by Edward Snowden had prompted public debate about the issues: "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," .
Saylor said that further publication of the FISA court's rulings would contribute to an informed debate and assure citizens of the integrity of the court's proceedings.
Because of another pending case, Saylor dismissed the ACLU motion for full disclosure of all the documents. However Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU deputy legal director saw Saylor's decision as a victory: "The opinion recognizes the importance of transparency to the debate about NSA spying. We've been asking for some time for a declassification review for all these opinions relevant to section 215, and we're gratified that the court has required the government to conduct that review."
On Tuesday, the southern district of New York also compelled the government to declassify numerous FISA court, NSA, FBI, and Justice Department Documents. This shows that in the opinion of two courts now the government is classifying documents without needing to do so for security reasons. The documents declassified show that the NSA had misrepresented the extent of its activities in collecting American's phone records and had even violated court-ordered restrictions on its ability to collect this data. Will anyone be punished as a result?
In another development, as reported in Digital Journal, the NSA has a secret agreement to share raw intelligence data with Israel.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about FISA court, Nsa, edward snowden, james clapper
More news from
Latest News
Top News