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Govt retaining documents thought to detail unknown NSA programs

Published time: January 21, 2014 22:44
Reuters / Carlo Allegri

Reuters / Carlo Allegri

Officials from the US Justice Department have admitted that they have intentionally not provided documents related to NSA surveillance activity in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the ACLU, US attorney Preet Bharara from the southern district of New York told the ACLU on Friday that authorities would keep “certain other” records from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court classified.

The ACLU was seeking to gain more insight into the government surveillance programs first revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, only to be told that some documents would be “withheld in full” under the Patriot Act.

The government's letter to the ACLU has inspired many to speculate that the federal government has used and/or is continuing to employ surveillance programs that have not been revealed as part of Snowden’s leaks. US President Obama has admitted that the NSA programs – which 53 percent of Americans are against, according to a recent Gallup poll – have “never been subject to vigorous public debate.”

One of the most contentious programs used by the NSA is the bulk collection of telephone metadata belonging to millions of Americans. The FISA court (also referred to as FISC) first authorized that program in 2006, and documents regarding its reauthorization were among those previously disclosed by the Justice Department.

Yet on Friday, the same day that Obama delivered his highly anticipated speech on the changes that the NSA would undergo, US Attorney Preet Bharara said that reauthorization documents released on that day would be among the last ones to be turned over as part of the ACLU suit.

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,” Bharara said.

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,” the attorney wrote, as quoted by the Guardian.

ACLU attorney Alexander Abdo said the ACLU's request only sought surveillance efforts conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the most controversial section of the deeply polarizing law. The Justice Department's disclosures have so far not included details about a CIA program that recorded information about international money transfers, another bulk collection program first reported in November by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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 told the Guardian. “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 debate that President Obama wants without the facts that his agencies are hiding.”

Comments (13)


anonymous 23.01.2014 15:44

And in the end America will be slowly drained of all its wealth. And the scoundrels who now play the patriot card, like this farce of the all laws named the Patriot Act, will find plush and tax free Dubai.s for themselves and their offspring to enjoy the spoils of their treachery. What goes up must come down. The 2000 US election changed the world. Or maybe just accelerated things a bit, who knows?...


Diez Sanchez 23.01.2014 15:38

If your nation is cutting social programs & being replaced by a serve d rich not d poor model.. you really don't need all that classified under d patroitt act info to figure out what's happening..your being robbed & the thieves are using your own legal system against yu. Same guys gaming your war on terror policy( all ur money is going for bombs & cages in actual government replacement..)& war on drugs policy.. more cops & real jobs while these insiders game d no oversight of under covers & make selves rich while u pay their salary! Sound familiar! Robbed by your own bad guys dressed as Jesus jihadist!


Tessa 23.01.2014 14:11

Don't worry, their lack of a response to our anger will prompt the journalists to continue the leaks in force. We will have more denials and lies and more people will wake up to the police state and fight back.

View all comments (13)
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