Justice Dept. urges surveillance court not to release opinions

The Obama administration on Friday called on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to reject a request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to release court opinions related to secret government surveillance programs.

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Lawyers for the Justice Department argued, according to Reuters, that releasing the opinions would expose the public to dangers that are "real and significant, and, quire frankly, beyond debate."

The Justice Department lawyers, however, did say that the surveillance court is free to release opinions as long as doing so does not violate specific rules.

The federal government might also release more records related to the surveillance program, Reuters reported.

A month ago, ACLU lawyers asked the surveillance court to release its opinions on a secret surveillance program in which the National Security Agency collects data on telephone calls. The surveillance program was first reported by the Guardian newspaper.

U.S. officials have defended the program, saying it is perfectly legal under the U.S. Patriot Act. President Obama and top administration officials have also said the program has been necessary and effective in fighting terrorism.

The former government contractor who leaked the information on the surveillance program, Edward Snowden, is reportedly hiding in Moscow's international airport while he seeks asylum.