The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to rack up victories in its Jewel v NSA suit, through which it has been suing the US spy agency over illegal mass-surveillance for nearly a decade (three successive administrations have stalled the suit by invoking official secrecy, a deadlock that was broken thanks to the leaks released by the whistleblower Edward Snowden). The latest news is that Judge Jeffrey White has 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" and refused to entertain the DoJ's appeal. EFF believes that the release will show that the DoJ lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court).
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.
After NSA Court Hearing, Government Must Unseal Documents by December 20 [Mark M. Jaycox/Electronic Frontier Foundation]