In an unprecedented order published today, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) says that it will make public some of the legal opinions that justify the government’s bulk data collection. Until now, those opinions have been secret. It isn’t clear exactly how many documents will be revealed as a result of this order from a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The court has only ordered the release of documents that do not overlap with a separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, also brought by the ACLU, proceeding in a New York federal court. “For too long, the NSA’s sweeping surveillance of Americans has been shrouded in unjustified secrecy,” said ACLU staff lawyer Alex Abdo. “Today’s ruling is an overdue rebuke of that practice. Secret law has no place in our democracy.”     

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