TCP Joins Amicus Brief Urging Justice Department Transparency

On March 22, 2013, TCP joined with a coalition of six additional organizations in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Electronic Frontier Foundation v. U.S. Department of Justice. The case involves a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation seeking an opinion by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The particular OLC opinion outlines the scope of the FBI’s authority under federal surveillance laws.

The groups’ amicus brief argues that the OLC opinion, which sets forth the “final, definitive interpretation of the executive branch” on these legal issues should be disclosed to avoid creating “secret law,” and that given its nature as an authoritative legal interpretation, the opinion cannot be withheld as “deliberative” materials or under the attorney-client privilege. Earlier this year, TCP’s Liberty and Security Committee’s February issued Lift the Veil of Secrecy on Targeted Killing, which urges that the “legal rules and standards under which our government operates should not be secret.”

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