Most Transparent Administration in History Releases Completely Redacted Document About Text Snooping


The American Civil Liberties Union was curious about warrantless government snooping on citizens' text messages. So the group filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Justice Department. Here's what they got back:

Totally Redacted FOIA response

A memo header:  "Guidance for the Minimization of Text Messages over Dual-Function Cellular Telephones" and then 15 pages, completely blacked out. 

Yup. An "unprecedented level of openness in government" from the "most transparent administration in history."

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  1. That’s a lot of black ink. Racist?

    1. It’s certainly a waste of pixels, contradicting the message that we must conserve energy to combat global warming.

      1. Depending upon compression technique, a largely black image is highly compressible…

        1. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job Ive had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringin home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,

          1. Is there a moderator who can remove this post?

      2. Black pixels are ones that are switched off.

        1. So, yes, that memo is quite the benchmark for bureaucratic sustainability initiatives.

        2. On an LCD the black pixels take more energy than the white pixels.

        3. A 15-page digital document that is essentially blank is a waste compared to not releasing anything at all.

          1. But I could have said “a waste of bits.”

          2. Printing it out is a bastard on the black ink cartridge.

    2. The redaction in the plug-in looks like a bunch of blank white pages to me.

      What’s racist is that they’re no longer using black ink.

    3. Seriously. You could accomplish the same thing with a box with a line through it.

    4. The response is clearly marked “Withhold in Part (b)(5) (b)(7)(E)”. It could have just said “Withhold in toto“.


    1. Nice. That made me laugh.

  3. If that isn’t about the clearest “fuck you, that’s why” you could imagine, I don’t know what it is. They might as well have watermarked FUCK YOU into the redaction.

    1. Behind that black box is the bird.

      1. Why redact that? Everybody already knows that the bird is the word.

    2. Episiarch| 5.13.13 @ 3:30PM |#
      “If that isn’t about the clearest “fuck you, that’s why” you could imagine, I don’t know what it is.”

      I’m guessing it’ll get beat by tomorrow’s NYT editorial:
      “They deserve it!”

    3. Yes, they had to redact the articles? I mean, we should at least get some articles. And maybe a few pronouns and simple verbs.

      1. “The” is sensitive information. It may actually be a crime to point out that the redacted text includes the word “the”.

        1. And “IS”? We don’t even want to mention it!

    4. Anyway How’s your sex life?

    5. Hey – it’s not all bad news – they left the title of the document visible and it says “minimization” in it – that sounds like a good word to me. “Dual-Function” and “Guidance” should be all the words the ACLU needs to be be satisfied that our rights are being safeguarded by the DoJ and the most honorouble defender of our rights, Paul O’Brien.

  4. Maybe they were afraid someone from the ACLU would try to read it while driving instead of waiting.

    1. http://www.prochoiceamerica.or…..rdict.html

      Note to NARAL: Kermit Gosnell was not a “back-alley” provider. What he ran was a legitimate, if unmonitored, clinic under Pennsylvania state law.

    2. The NARAL uses the phrase “abortion care” numerous times. Yeah, great euphemism. Because sucking out the baby while it’s growing in the womb is caring for it.

  5. Wow, just wow.

  6. It’s understandable.
    First they redacted the names of all the agents and supervisors involved (employee privacy),
    then the techniques, including equipement descriptions and software (proprietary information),
    then then names and categories of individuals snooped (they are only suspects – not criminals … yet),
    and any other identifying reference (privacy, ya know),

    Then there was just a mess of random verbs and articles, so they redacted them to make it neater.

    1. The _____ bent the 4th _______ over the table and begin vigorously _______ it.

      1. Epi, Warty tentacle, run his tongue along

        1. Just like every Friday night.

        2. The Epi?

          1. He’s like The Ohio State University only with a greater emphasis on skanks.

            1. Did you just compare me to a state school?!?

              1. Well to be fair, tOSU is a top-notch research school. And they have the greatest football program in the history of the entire universe.

                You should be flattered.

                Fuck Michigan!

                1. f the suckeyes!

                2. If you’re going to compare me to a state school, at least have it be something cool like…like…uh…

                    1. Penn?

              2. To be honest, I assumed the skanks thing would be the part you’d notice.

                1. I never even made it to that part of the sentence, as I was too offended by your insult. Besides, everyone knows that OSU is lousy with skanks.

                  1. I thought it was The Ohio Skank University?

                    1. IT’S STILL A STATE SCHOOL

                    2. THE skanks.

  7. Might as well play Mad-Lib with it.

  8. See? Tell me that the government is inefficient. Just redacting the whole thing saves a lot of time and manpower.

  9. That’s an amazing “fuck you”. Whoever did it is a true insult artist.

    1. Is Wall of Redaction a band?

      1. “That’s what the world is today. Hey, hey.”

      2. How about this? The [Redacted].

    2. Anyway how’s your sex life?

  10. To be fair, maybe the memo was produced using Snapchat.

  11. They’re just protecting themselves against Fox News generating another non-scandal out of this.

  12. This reminded me of the scene from R.E.D. when the new hot shot tried to read Frank Moses’s file in the Vault. Even there, the files are completely redacted.

  13. I’m suprised they didn’t just send them back a post-it note with “Fuck, you, that’s why” written on it.

    1. I think 15 blacked out pages is pretty clearly the ideal, “FYTW”-metaphor

      “Oh, ‘Freedom of Information’, huh? SURE! Here go!”

      I’m not sure if its irony or something (DAMN YOU ALANIS MORRISETTE) when an ostensibly ‘transparent’ government refuses to share ‘information’ about how they ‘steal information’ from individuals. As the movie says, ‘if you’re not cop, you’re little people’…

      1. irony

        I’ll take Hypocrisy for $1000, Alex.

  14. Is this a joke? The ACLU article doesn’t reference this scribd document… unless I’m missing something?

    1. i’m calling shenanigans

      1. What’s weird to me is the subject line: “Guidance for the Minimization of Text Messages over Dual-Function Cellular Telephones.” It sounds like it’s about avoiding texting charges, not about about intercepting messages.

    2. From first paragraph of the article:

      (you can see the documents here).

      And on the linked page, you will find:

      5/8/13 – Documents released by DOJ Criminal Division

      The document shown above is CRM-1, the first item in the table. The second, CRM-7, dated 7/5/2012, is a similar (though much longer at 54 pages) wall of redaction.

  15. Those guys are not making any sense at all.

  16. Wow. I never knew transparency was so opaque.

  17. Did Obama forget to tell us it was opposite day when he made those claims about his glorious administration?

    1. Why bother, when you can do anything up to and including assassinating untried American citizens (including a child) and get a pass from the media and voting public? The great lesson of the Obama presidency is this: a successful candidate has no record to be judged on, promises the moon, and then does anything he likes while continuing to promise the moon for the next four years.

      The great fun of the next four years will be watching Obama slowly come to understand what it means to be a lame duck president. He’ll be up to three packs a day in no time.

      1. He may end up with a hole in the throat.

    2. To be fair, he never promised to be the most transparent. He promised to bring an “unprecedented level of transparency”.

      I would say that being completely opaque is an unprecedented level.

  18. Leave them alone! I did not see one bit of incriminating evidence there!

  19. Certainly there must have been some and’s and the’s which they could have left unredacted.

  20. What are the sources for this article? Why is it that I cannot find any mention of this on ACLU?

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