groups seek access to spying documents"
Associated Press (via MSNBC)
February 10, 2006
Security Archive and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Complaint
Security Archive and ACLU Motion to Consolidate
Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Complaint
Motion for a Preliminary Injunction
of Justice: "Legal Authorities Supporting the Activities of
the National Security Agency Described by the President"
of Justice concedes it can begin to release
internal warrantless surveillance records on March 3
more information contact:
Thomas Blanton or Meredith
D.C., February 13, 2006 - Under pressure
from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Justice Department
on February 10 conceded in federal court that it could begin releasing
as early as March 3 the internal legal memos relied on by the Bush
administration in setting up the controversial National Security
Agency warrantless wiretapping program.
The National Security Archive, along with the American Civil Liberties
Union ("ACLU"), this week joined the Electronic Privacy
Information Center in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against
the Department of Justice seeking to compel the immediate disclosure
of the internal legal justifications for the surveillance program.
The filing this
week by the Archive and the ACLU was consolidated
with a suit filed on January
19, 2006, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center ("EPIC")
that requested the federal court in Washington to
issue a preliminary injunction requiring the release
of relevant documents within 20 days-which Judge Henry H. Kennedy,
Jr. considered at a formal hearing today.
The response of the news media to the revelation that the National
Security Agency ("NSA") has engaged in warrantless domestic
surveillance was immediate and dramatic, as was the response of
Congress which just this week held the first hearing examining the
legality of the program. News reporting and Administration statements
over the last six weeks have disclosed that NSA began warrantless
eavesdropping prior to receiving formal approval from President
Bush; that the operation involves cooperation from American telecommunication
companies, which allowed the agency to tap "directly into some
of the American telecommunication system's main arteries";
that the information gathered was turned over to other agencies,
including the Defense Intelligence Agency; and that some purely
domestic communications (which both originated and terminated in
the United States) were accidentally intercepted.
The Archive's General Counsel Meredith Fuchs commented, "There
are real secrets and convenient secrets. It may be convenient for
the NSA to run this program in secret, but that policy debate, and
consideration of the legality of the program, should be open."
The Archive submitted the FOIA request to the Department of Justice
on December 22, 2005. The Department of Justice agreed with the
Archive's contention that the request merits speedy processing,
but has failed to meet FOIA's statutory 20-day deadline for responses.
The Archive has published an extensive
chronicle of the key historic documents about domestic intelligence
policy, including many brought to light by the Church
Committee investigations of intelligence abuses, and a series of
National Security Agency documents from the 1990s released under
the Freedom of Information Act that describe the limits imposed
by FISA and the Fourth Amendment on surveilling U.S. persons.