September 27, 2013 | By Lee Tien

After NSA Court Hearing, Government Must Unseal Documents by December 20

A federal judge ordered the government to unseal more documents concerning the NSA spying programs by December 20, 2013. The judge issued the ruling in EFF's lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, which began in 2008 over the NSA spying program initiated by the Bush Administration, which continues to this day.

In light of the declassifications inspired by the June leaks, Judge Jeffrey White ordered the government to unseal any declassified material, like exhibits, declarations, and other ex parte submissions that the government had previously submitted to the court under seal.

In response, the government asked that it only release a new declaration. The Department of Justice lawyers reasoned that reviewing the material submitted since the case began in 2008 would be a heavy burden. We objected, noting that recently declassified documents have shown that the government had submitted misleading material to the court overseeing the spying, called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court).

Judge White denied the government's request, noting that the government had the resources to carry out such a review. He also noted that there should be a "fulsome" record for the court, the public, and the plaintiffs to draw from. The judge also set a briefing schedule on the procedural issues that it wanted resolved before turning to the critical question—whether the spying program is legal and constitutional.

We look forward to the government's submissions and will be reporting on them when they are released.


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