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ODNI & DOJ release declassified documents … on Tumblr?!

The US Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) just declassified the Bush administration’s memo justifying warrantless surveillance – via PDF on Tumblr! Turns out ODNI has been doing this since 2013. I’m not averse to federal agencies having a social media presence. But the release of declassified and/or FOIA’d documents should NOT be done exclusively on tumblr/twitter/facebook etc. It’s fine to write about the release on those sites, but official documents should be hosted on official .gov sites — like for example the ODNI FOIA reading room! — where they can be archived by the National Archives, Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress and other official channels. I equate agencies using social media to release official documents in the same vein as government officials using gmail to conduct business. Not cool, and ODNI should know better.

The Department of Justice has released today in redacted form a previously classified 2002 letter from former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel addressed to former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Presiding Judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. The letter was designed to address certain questions that Judge Kollar-Kotelly raised during her first briefing on May 17, 2002, concerning certain collection activities authorized by President George W. Bush shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, referred to as the President’s Surveillance Program. 

As described in the publicly released Inspectors General reports concerning the PSP dated July 10, 2009 (published at IC on the Record April 25, 2015 and September 21, 2015), Judge Kollar-Kotelly was permitted to read the letter, but was not authorized to retain a copy or take notes. The 2002 letter purports to generally outline the scope of the President’s legal authority to conduct possible electronic surveillance techniques after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Beginning in 2004, the Department of Justice thoroughly reexamined the factual underpinnings and legal analysis for the PSP culminating in a legal opinion issued by the Office of Legal Counsel on May 6, 2004. (That opinion is also publicly available in redacted form)

[HT Alex Howard!]

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