Surveillance opinion kept under wraps

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Politico reports that the Justice Department refuses to release a legal opinion governing the use of an FBI mechanism to obtain telephone-company records and other information.

In Nov. 10 court filings, Josh Gerstein reported, “the Obama administration said it would not release the January 2010 Office of Legal Counsel memo because portions of it are classified and because disclosing any part of the memo would damage the deliberative process and infringe on the attorney-client relationship.”

DOJ was responding to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“Exigent letters have been used by the FBI in a leak investigation to get information on journalists’ phone calls,” Gerstein writes.

The refusal to reveal the “exigent letters” memo follows another refusal several weeks ago to disclose an opinion involving armed drones used to kill U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen.

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