nationalsecuritylaw newly released OLC memoranda regarding NSA surveillance

March 19, 2011

* newly released OLC memoranda regarding NSA surveillance

In response to FOIA litigation brought by the ACLU, the government has released a pair of heavily-redacted memoranda from OLC relating to warrantless surveillance. One is from John Yoo, the other from Jack Goldsmith. Both are available here. Please note the following observations, posted by Jack this evening at in response to the release:

…. To protect classified information, the released version of the memorandum I wrote is heavily redacted. It discloses only portions of a legal analysis, and very little of the context in which the legal principles were applied. (The unclassified Inspector General Report on this topic provides more context.) To cite but one fact that remains unexplained, the memorandum states that “[t]he scope of the authorization for electronic surveillance . . . has changed over time [and the changes] are most easily understood as being divided into two phases: (i) those that occurred before March 2004, and (ii) those that occurred in March [] 2004,” two months before the memorandum was completed. An understanding of my views and actions requires reading the memorandum and other classified documents in their entirely, which is not possible today. I continue to believe that the memorandum provides a sound analysis of a difficult set of legal issues encountered in a difficult context.