Justice Department Memos Heavily Redacted To Conceal Full Scope Of Bush Administration’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program

March 19, 2011 4:46 pm

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Memos Released As Part Of ACLU Freedom Of Information Act Litigation

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NEW YORK – Two Justice Department memos describing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) illegal warrantless wiretapping program were made public late Friday as part of an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

The memos, a May 2004 memo authored by the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel Jack Goldsmith and a November 2001 memo from John Yoo, then the deputy assistant attorney general, are most notable for what they don’t reveal. The memos are heavily redacted.

In 2005, the New York Times disclosed that the NSA was secretly intercepting the telephone calls and e-mails of people in the United States without a warrant in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The ACLU, the National Security Archive and the Electronic Privacy Information Center quickly filed FOIA requests for documents about the NSA surveillance program. After the government largely ignored the requests, the ACLU and the National Security Archive filed lawsuits to enforce their rights under FOIA.

The following can be attributed to Alexander Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

“Despite a much-trumpeted commitment to transparency and accountability, the Obama administration has continued to shield the surveillance practices of the past from meaningful scrutiny. Nearly a decade after President Bush authorized a set of intelligence activities that almost led to the resignation of the attorney general, the FBI director and other Justice Department officials, the American public still knows virtually nothing about what it was that President Bush authorized.”

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