UPDATE: Government Files Emergency Motion to Delay Release of FOIA Documents
A couple weeks ago we told you about a victory in our long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation for documents detailing telecommunications carriers' lobbying efforts to get off the hook for their role in the government's warrantless electronic surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. On September 24, a federal judge ordered the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Justice to turn over many of the records we requested by Friday, October 9, 2009.
EFF began working to force the release of the records in 2007 after media reports revealed an extensive lobbying campaign seeking immunity for telecoms that participated in the government's unlawful surveillance program. As Judge Jeffrey White noted, his decision "is consistent with" President Obama's directive on FOIA, issued on his first full day in office, which adopted a presumption in favor of disclosure and promised “a new era of open government.”
Nevertheless, after Judge White ordered disclosure of the documents, the agencies asked him to postpone his order for 60 days while the government ruminated over the pros and cons of appealing to the Ninth Circuit, which EFF opposed. The agencies also asked the court to reconsider the decision. Yesterday, Judge White denied both of the government's motions, clearing the way for the government to release the documents tomorrow, as originally ordered. So far, the government hasn't appealed, and the clock is ticking.
We look forward to receiving the documents tomorrow so that they can be part of the active congressional debate over repealing telecom immunity. Assuming the government doesn't attempt further delay tactics, we intend to post the files here as soon as we get them. Stay tuned...
UPDATE: Late Thursday, the DOJ and ODNI filed an emergency motion asking for a 30-day stay while the agencies consider an appeal. EFF opposed the motion Friday morning, and the government filed a reply around noon PT. We'll post any additional updates here as soon as they become available.