Justice Dept. National Security Division Earns “Most Secretive Agency” Nomination

Thursday, May 22, 2014
The Golden Padlock Award (photo: Travis Hartman, Investigative Reporters and Editors)

In the eyes of one civil liberties organization, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) office overseeing national security matters is a real winner when it comes to keeping the American public in the dark.


Each year, Investigative Reporters and Editors gives out the “Golden Padlock” award to the government agency best at being overly secretive with information.


Nominations for the “honor” are now being accepted, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which fights for privacy and free speech on the Internet, says it will put up the Justice Department’s National Security Division (NSD) for consideration.

EFF says it has battled NSD for years to gain access to legal opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that featured classified interpretations of the Constitution and federal surveillance laws. But the division steadfastly refused to release any of the documents—not a page, not a single word. This stonewalling prompted EFF to sue NSD twice to get the opinions released.


Eventually, one opinion was disclosed, revealing that the secreted material went so far as to include text from the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from illegal searches and seizures.


EFF also found other information classified as “TOP SECRET” that consisted of criticisms from the FISC regarding illegal government actions:


·         “The Court is exceptionally concerned about what appears to be a flagrant violation of its order in this matter[.]”

·         “[T]he Court must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the Court’s orders. The Court no longer has such confidence.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

EFF Nominates Justice Department’s National Security Division for Golden Padlock Award for Egregious Secrecy (Electronic Frontier Foundation)



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