Judge Rejects Call for NSA Full Disclosure
(CN) - All the critical material in an 81-page 2011 FISC opinion on NSA surveillance has been declassified and made public, a federal judge ruled, rejecting the Electronic Frontier Foundation's request for an unredacted copy.
In 2012, the EFF, a digital rights group, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Security Agency seeking a copy of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's (FISC) October 2011 order related to the government's collection of intelligence on foreign targets.
The government originally provided EFF with an extensively redacted copy of the order, which the non-profit challenged in court.
But following former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's massive leak of confidential documents on NSA surveillance, the agency revised its position.
It released another copy of the order in 2013, this time with far fewer redactions.
"Of the opinion's eighty-one pages, approximately half of the pages contained less than a line of redacted text, and included in that count is twenty-five pages that contained no redactions at all," U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson said, writing for the three-judge panel.
The agency also lifted several other redactions when the judge asked for a detailed explanation of specific redactions after an in camera review.
"Based on its review of those documents, the court finds that none of the remaining redactions appear to be for an improper purpose, such as to shield embarrassing information from the public. The overwhelming majority of the redactions are simply docket information identifying prior applications and opinions by either number or date," the 14-page opinion said.
Some redactions remain justified by the government's interest in protecting national security.However, none of the redactions "operate to withhold material that would show any violation of law, inefficiency, or administrative error. Indeed, material in the opinion that is critical of the government's conduct has been declassified and made public," Jackson concluded.