Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Mar 22, 2013

CREW Files Brief to Fight Secret Surveillance Laws

Amicus Briefs (Legal Filings), Federal Agencies, Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), FOIA, Legal, Amicus Briefs, News, Washington Post, Organizations, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Electronic Frontier Foundation, OpenTheGovernment.org

On March 22, 2013, CREW and six other groups filed an amicus brief in Electronic Frontier Foundation v. U.S. Department of Justice, challenging U.S. secret laws. The case concerns the intersection of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and secret law. At issue is an opinion prepared by the Dept. of Justice's Office of Legal Council (OLC) setting forth the final, definitive interpretation of the executive branch on the scope of the FBI's authority under federal surveillance laws.

In the brief, we state:

"The OLC opinion at is sue is huts one of thousands of final opinions OLC has issues over the years on a wide range of issues, from the authority of the Bureau of Census to adjust population data for purposes other than apportionment, to the legality of using enhanced interrogation techniques on detainees. Those opinions also include analyses by OLC about the constitutionality of a presidents refusal to enforce a statutory provision. Keeping these opinions secret essentially affords the president unreviewable discretion to ignore federal statutory requirements."

"Only by requiring the disclosure of the OLC Opinion at issue can this Court stop the escalating secrecy that threatens to undermine the proper functioning of our government."