At 11 a.m. Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue for the release of court orders supposedly authorizing the government's electronic domestic surveillance program that intercepts and analyzes millions of Americans' communications.
The White House first acknowledged the surveillance program's existence in 2005, claiming that surveillance could be conducted without warrants or judicial authorization of any kind. But in January of this year, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had authorized collection of some communications. He said the surveillance program would now operate under its approval.
EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the FISC orders and other records concerning the purported changes in the program. When the justice department
did not comply, EFF filed suit in federal court.
Thursday's hearing before Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, will include oral arguments from both EFF and the DOJ. For more information about EFF's lawsuit, go here.
Those White House subpoenas
On June 27 the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney, the Department of Justice and the National Security Council for documents related to the National Security Agency's spying program. Last Wednesday, the committee agreed to extend the deadline for the administration to respond.
Disclosure of the requested documents could be a critical step toward revealing the full extent of the NSA's illegal spying and the role that telecommunications companies like AT&T played in it. The American public deserves to know the truth about the program and Congress should, to the fullest extent of its powers, make the Executive Branch comply.
In a letter accompanying the subpoenas, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said the committee had previously made "no fewer than nine formal requests to the Department of Justice and to the White House, seeking information and documents about the authorization of and legal justification for this program. All requests have been rebuffed," Leahy wrote. " Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection.”
To read the four subpoenas, go here.