Three years ago, U.S. officials launched a review of significant classified rulings by a federal intelligence court to see which could be redacted sufficiently for public release. To date, none have.
The challenge, said Robert S. Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is that “in many cases, classified information is so intertwined with the legal analysis that removing the classified information would leave a document that lacks any meaningful substance.”
Some lawmakers have pressed the government for years to declassify significant opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, arguing that the public has a right to know how the secretive court is interpreting laws that affect Americans’ privacy.
“We have been attempting to prepare redacted opinions and are hopeful we can reach a point where it might be possible to release them in a manner that protects national security,” Litt said in an e-mail exchange last week.