New York Times Suing Government For Refusing To Reveal Its Secret PATRIOT Act Interpretation

docPerhaps the most perverse aspect of the PATRIOT Act is the federal government’s refusal to reveal how it interprets and puts into practice the (vague and far-reaching) law. Techdirt reports that the New York Times is stepping up to the plate and challenging Washington:

Reporter Charlie Savage of the New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out the federal government’s interpretation of its own law…and had it refused. According to the federal government, its own interpretation of the law is classified. What sort of democracy are we living in when the government can refuse to even say how it’s interpreting its own law? That’s not democracy at all.

We’ve been covering for a while now how Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have been very concerned over the secret interpretation the feds have of one piece of the PATRIOT Act. They’ve been trying to pressure the government into publicly explaining how they interpret the law, because they believe that it directly contrasts how most of the public (and many elected officials) believe the feds are interpreting the law. While the two Senators continue to put pressure on the feds and to hint at the feds’ interpretation, just the fact that the government won’t even explain its own interpretation of the law seems ridiculous.

Julian Sanchez points us to the news that Savage and the Times have now sued the federal government for not revealing its interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, pointing out that if parts of the interpretation contain classified material, the Justice Department should black that out and reveal the rest, but simply refusing to reveal the interpretation entirely is a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. You can bet that the feds will do everything they can to get out of this lawsuit, just as they did with the various lawsuits concerning warrantless wiretapping. Here’s hoping the court systems don’t let them. No matter what you think of this administration (or the last one) and how it’s handling the threat of terrorism, I’m curious how anyone can make the argument that the US government should not reveal how it interprets the very laws under which it’s required to operate.

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  • Navysealteam7

    We’re going through a huge cultural and social grinder, so to speak, and hopefully shady practices that are a threat to our sovereignty such as the (anti)Patriot Act will be ground up to legislative dust and removed from our law books

  • Navysealteam7

    We’re going through a huge cultural and social grinder, so to speak, and hopefully shady practices that are a threat to our sovereignty such as the (anti)Patriot Act will be ground up to legislative dust and removed from our law books

  • The Spanish Patriot

    Governmental polarity has significantly increased while economical (financial) disparities have doubled. The corporate aristocrats have infiltrated our governments and no longer has it become checks-and-balances. But a fascist entity determined to stay the ruling class by all means necessary. It’s up to the people to fight for their countries back and ensure the ruling class diminishes. 

  • The Spanish Patriot

    Governmental polarity has significantly increased while economical (financial) disparities have doubled. The corporate aristocrats have infiltrated our governments and no longer has it become checks-and-balances. But a fascist entity determined to stay the ruling class by all means necessary. It’s up to the people to fight for their countries back and ensure the ruling class diminishes. 

  • Acorn_Recruiter

    Oregon represent!  GO RON WYDEN!

  • Anonymous

    Oregon represent!  GO RON WYDEN!

  • AFV

    So “ignorance of the law” is now a legitimate excuse? YAY!

  • Anonymous

    So “ignorance of the law” is now a legitimate excuse? YAY!

  • Anonymous

    I’m a Brave, Patriotic, Republican-American and I think submitting FOIA requests about the uses of the USA PATRIOT Act should be a violation of secret interpretations of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    And I think the secret interpretation is a new reading of the 4th amendment where any “reasonable” search doesn’t require a warrant. Gen. Michael Hayden said it aloud, but the people he was talking to just didn’t get it. http://satp.blogspot.com/2006/05/meeting-focking-thought-processes.html

  • http://satp.blogspot.com/ JoshSN

    I’m a Brave, Patriotic, Republican-American and I think submitting FOIA requests about the uses of the USA PATRIOT Act should be a violation of secret interpretations of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    And I think the secret interpretation is a new reading of the 4th amendment where any “reasonable” search doesn’t require a warrant. Gen. Michael Hayden said it aloud, but the people he was talking to just didn’t get it. http://satp.blogspot.com/2006/05/meeting-focking-thought-processes.html

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