We could publish Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions, but then we'd have to kill everybody. That's the gist of the Obama administration's arguments in a federal court room, give or take a little literary license. Well, a lot of literary license. Anyway, the administration doesn't want us knowing the details of a FISA ruling that went against the government — or any other decisions of the court. Do you think federal officials are just getting bashful? The administration's argument's came in response to efforts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to unearth just what sort of surveillance could be so over the top that it offended even the secretive FISA court.
The President Barack Obama administration is informing a federal judge that if it's forced to disclose a secret court opinion about the government illegally spying on Americans, the likely result could be "exceptionally grave and serious damage to the national security."
The statement came in response to a lawsuit demanding the administration disclose a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion issued as early as last year. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) was briefed on the opinion as a member of the Intelligence Committee and was authorized last year to reveal that the surveillance had "circumvented the spirit of the law" and was "unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation of San Francisco sought the ruling as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. The government rejected the request. The digital rights group sued in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In response, the government said that disclosure of the secret opinion should be barred because it "implicates classified intelligence sources and methods."
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