Oct 12, 2011 4:29 PM GMT
Stuff like this is incredible for any Administration. So basically you can break the law now and not only can you not have any idea that you broke the law, but they can prevent you from knowing what law you broke?? Granted this is anti-terrorism but this is a terrible precedent.
The New York Times and reporter Charlie Savage are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Department of Justice filed on Oct. 5 over the release of a "secret" government interpretation of the Patriot Act.
The suit, a copy of which was obtained by LawFareBlog, stemmed from Savage’s reporting in May, when Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) referenced secret elements to the Patriot Act and offered an amendment to make public the details that had previously been withheld.
The Senate at the time was voting on a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which was reauthorized. In other words, the senators said, there was one version of the anti-terrorism measure presented to the public, and another withheld by the government. They proposed making the "secret" version public.
“I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry,” said Wyden on May 25.
Savage wrote then that “The Obama administration declined to explain what the senators were talking about.”
After Wyden’s statement, Savage filed a series Freedom of Information Act requests and appeals to Justice seeking the government’s interpretation of the Patriot Act, according to the suit, all of which were denied because the information is classified by Justice. The Justice Department had no immediate response to POLITICO's requests for comment.
The lawsuit concludes the Times has “exhausted its administrative remedies” and asks for the government’s interpretation of the Patriot Act to be made public because the Department of Justice is subject to FOIA and is either obligated to disclose the records the Times requests or “provide a lawful reason for withholding” the materials it wishes to except from FOIA.