National Security Inspectors General Release Critique of Warrantless Surveillance Program
For more information contact:
Meredith Fuchs - 202/994-7000
Washington, DC, July 10, 2009 - Today’s release of a report by several agency inspectors general reinforces the National Security Archive’s argument in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that the Justice Department should declassify and release the legal justifications for the surveillance program authorized by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The new report from the inspectors general of the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, criticizes the OLC memoranda that were used to justify warrantless surveillance of US citizens, several of which remain secret and are subject to the Archive’s lawsuit. The IGs state that there were “deficiencies” in the OLC memos, drafted by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, and that the memos “raise[d] serious concerns” at DOJ because they omitted analysis of key cases and legal provisions and were not subject to the ordinary “rigorous peer review process.”
According to Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs, “The IG report shows why it is important to release the underlying legal opinions to the public so we don’t make the same mistakes again.”
The National Security Archive, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed a FOIA lawsuit in 2006 seeking records related to the warrantless surveillance program, including relevant OLC legal opinions. In November 2008, 10 of those opinions were submitted to District Judge Henry Kennedy for in camera review after the court held that the government had not sufficiently justified withholding the opinions in their entirety. The case is pending Judge Kennedy’s review.