Democrat From Kentucky

Democrat from Kentucky
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Federal Judge Orders Release of Wiretap Papers Friday, February 17, 2006

The push over presidential powers is on. Federal District Judge Henry Kennedy ordered the White House to release documents in its warrentless surveillance program. The court gave the White House 20 days to hand over the papers or explain why they couldn't do it.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) fileda Freedom of Information Act request in order to obtain access to the documents. As soon as the NYT originally ran the story, EPIC filed for preliminary injunction and Kennedy granted that motion. WaPo said this:

In a victory for three privacy advocacy groups seeking Justice Department records about the program, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled yesterday that the department cannot decide on its own what documents it will provide, because news reports in December revealing the program's existence have created a substantial public dialogue about presidential powers and individual privacy rights. Kennedy rejected Justice's argument that, because so much of the surveillance program involves classified information, the agency alone can determine when it is feasible to review and possibly release documents.

"President Bush has invited meaningful debate about the warrantless surveillance program," Kennedy wrote, alluding to comments Bush has made at news conferences and speeches acknowledging public disagreement about domestic spying. "That can only occur if DOJ processes its requests in a timely fashion and releases the information sought."

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department "has been extremely forthcoming about documents and information about the legal authorities" for the surveillance program.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had requested the records under the Freedom of Information Act along with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the National Security Archive Fund, cheered the ruling.

Kennedy agreed with the three groups that the Justice Department's decision to set its own time frame "would give the agency unchecked power to drag its feet and 'pay lip service' " to the law requiring the release of public information.

Glenn Greenwald said in his Unclaimed Territory:

I do not know all of the implications of the Court's order, which will undoubtedly be appealed and perhaps stayed during the appeal. The DoJ is not yet being required to produce all of the requested documents but instead merely to "respond" to the FOIA requests, which leaves open the option of objecting to producing some or all of them on the grounds of various privileges and national security claims. But the Order does require the DoJ to "produce or identify all responsive records" by March 8, which means that they will have to identify the documents they want to withhold and provide reasons why they are withholding them (which the court will then review for validity).

As Greenwald explains, the administration is going to be forced to deal with this issue one way or the other now. They have to talk about it some and since this will drag on until March, it doesn't matter what Congress does to a certain degree. This also means folks have an opportunity to pour on the pressure and make some headway on this, particularly since most Republican politicians seem to be woosing out on the whole investigation thing.

We know the Justice Dept,. will appeal and they may get a stay. If that happens, this may also get to the SCOTUS. If that happens, it, in all honesty, will probably go the way of the administration. We can only hope this issue can keep going and we can work the Senators into a frenzy. I just wish our senators here in Kentucky would actually listen to their constituents just one time.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:21 AM

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Location: Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States

I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.

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