«

»

Jan 21 2014

This is Change?

US withholding Fisa court orders on NSA bulk collection of Americans’ data

Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Tuesday 21 January 2014 13.16 EST

US attorney Preet Bharara of the southern district of New York informed the ACLU in a Friday letter that the government would not turn over “certain other” records from a secret surveillance court, which are being “withheld in full” from a Freedom of Information Act suit the civil liberties group filed to shed light on bulk surveillance activities performed under the Patriot Act.

The decision to keep some of the records secret, in the thick of Edward Snowden’s revelations, has raised suspicions within the ACLU that the government continues to hide bulk surveillance activities from the public, despite US president Barack Obama’s Friday concession that controversial National Security Agency programs have “never been subject to vigorous public debate”.

In his letter, written on the day Obama gave a long-awaited speech on surveillance that pledged additional transparency, Bhahara said that Friday’s release will be the last disclosure under the terms of the ACLU’s lawsuit.

“As discussed by telephone this morning, the government in fact has processed all of the remaining FISC Orders responsive to the FOIA request in this case that relate to bulk collection, regardless of whether the order contains any additions and/or adjustments to the implementation procedures, minimization procedures, and/or reporting requirements set out in other FISC orders,” the US attorney wrote.

“The government cannot specify the total number of documents withheld in full from this final set of responsive documents because the number itself is classified.”

Alexander Abdo, an ACLU attorney, noted that the government’s bulk surveillance disclosures have yet to include, among other efforts, a reported CIA program to collect international money transfers in bulk, revealed in November by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

“It appears that the government is concealing the existence of other bulk collection programs under the Patriot Act, such as the CIA’s reported collection of our financial records,” Abdo said.

“In other words, on the same day that President Obama recognized the need for a vigorous debate about bulk collection, the government appears to be hiding the ball. We can’t have the public debate that President Obama wants without the facts that his agencies are hiding.”

1 ping

Comments have been disabled.