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In the news

"Private groups seek access to spying documents"
By Pete Yost
Associated Press (via MSNBC)
February 10, 2006


National Security Archive and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Complaint

National Security Archive and ACLU Motion to Consolidate

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Complaint

EPIC Motion for a Preliminary Injunction

Department of Justice: "Legal Authorities Supporting the Activities of the National Security Agency Described by the President"

Department of Justice concedes it can begin to release
internal warrantless surveillance records on March 3

For more information contact:
Thomas Blanton or
Meredith Fuchs

Washington, 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.

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