In 2002, President Bush secretly issued an executive order authorizing the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance of international telephone and Internet communications on American soil.
EPIC submitted FOIA requests to the NSA and four Department of Justice components and asked the agencies to expedite the processing of the requests.
The DOJ agreed that the requests warranted priority treatment, but failed to comply with the FOIA's usual time limit of 20 working days. In January 2006, EPIC filed a lawsuit against the DOJ to compel the immediate disclosure of information concerning the NSA surveillance program, and asked the federal district court in Washington to issue a preliminary injunction requiring the release of relevant documents within 20 days. EPIC's case was consolidated with a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and National Security Archive concerning the same documents.
On February 16, 2006, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy ordered the DOJ to process and release documents concerning the NSA program within 20 days. The day before it was required to disclose the documents, the Justice Department asked Judge Kennedy for an additional 4 months to process some of the material responsive to EPIC's request, which the Judge allowed.
Once the DOJ completes its processing of the material, any decision to withhold the requested documents will be subject to judicial review, and the Judge will have the ability to order "in camera" production of the material and make an independent determination concerning public disclosure. The NSA has released 2 internal messages in response to EPIC's request, but is withholding all other responsive material. EPIC filed suit against the against the NSA in 2006, asking a federal court to compel the release of the withheld documents. EPIC later dismissed the case.
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