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Electronic Frontier Foundation Censorship Government The Courts United States

EFF: US Gov't Bid To Alter Court Record in Jewel v. NSA 78

The EFF is only today able to release details of an attempt by the government to alter the historical record in the case brought by the EFF against the NSA in Jewel v. NSA. "On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to "remove" classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so." As you'd expect of the EFF, they fought back with vigorous objections, and in the end the government did not get its way, instead deciding that it hadn't given away any classified information after all. "The transcript of a court proceeding is the historical record of that event, what will exist and inform the public long after the persons involved are gone. The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented. We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made. This was another example of the government's attempt to shroud in secrecy both its own actions, as well as the challenges to those actions. We are pleased that the record of this attempt is now public. But should the situation recur, we will fight it as hard as we did this time."
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EFF: US Gov't Bid To Alter Court Record in Jewel v. NSA

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  • So What's New? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Cornwallis ( 1188489 )

    The Criminals in Congress (TM) have had the ability to retroactively "correct" the Congressional record forever...

    • are tearing me apart. And breaking my heart.

  • Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @06:36PM (#47609805)

    We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made.

    Well, duh! Normally our rewriting of history is effective enough that you will not find such records.

    • Re:Duh! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @06:38PM (#47609825)

      A good judge would take action against the prosecutors for any number of varying reasons, and the one that I would pick would be: vexation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How about contempt of court? I mean, it's pretty contemptuous of the Executive Branch to be demanding a subversion of the Justice Branch.

    • +1 was their quote intended to be tonge-in-chic?
    • While I disagree with what the government tried to do here, if they did get such a change performed, I would expect that its existence is also not publicized, so the EFF not knowing that it has happened is far from proof that it hasn't.

      Also, I take exception with the EFF's line "The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented." The government attempted to censor part of the record, i.e. remove it from the transcript. The way the EFF phrased it makes it sound like they were trying to subs

    • He did not look very far. It has happened at Gitmo.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He did not look very far. It has happened at Gitmo.

        I thought the point of Gitmo was to not even go to court, so there are no court transcripts / records to change.

    • Considering the request to rewrite the record also required the falsification to be secret, how would we know how many times this has been done in the past. We only know that this is the first time such a request has been rejected. I personally suspect it might only have been rejected because of the large number of witnesses of the original hearing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Obama's Regime does this grab and release with information on a regular basis.
    How many other times does this Administration get away with suddenly classifying information and then lose in court. And, just as suddenly, the information actually contains no classified information.

    • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @08:34PM (#47610617) Homepage Journal

      My favorite example of government overreach was:

      "The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect 'domestic security.' Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent."
          -- Redacted from a US Supreme Court document by the Ashcroft
                Justice Department in the name of national security.

  • 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @06:44PM (#47609875)
    And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. "Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. "Reality control," they called it: in Newspeak, "doublethink."

    1984 - George Orwell
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That would of course hint that before you get to 1984 that Fahrenheit 451 will be required. After all, digital documents served on demand are much more believeable if those pesky paper documents, with potentially contrary evidence aren't stored somewhere.

      We are at war with ($1) we have always been at war with ($1).

      Now you know more about why the government is so eager to help copyright move to just allowing the public a short term lease when they make a purchase. Watch it become a requirement where your com

    • The cautionary tale has turned into a tragedy.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Darn. If I had modpoints, I would have modded you troll, so nobody would read it and history would have changed.

      BTW: We have always been at war against drugs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:00PM (#47609991)

    Contribute to EFF - they get results!

  • No precedent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:01PM (#47610003)
    Sure there is! []
  • by infolation ( 840436 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:01PM (#47610005)
    As with the other Ministries in the novel, the Ministry of Truth is a misnomer and in reality serves the opposite of its purported namesake: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. In another sense, and in keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is aptly named, in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes a willful fooling of posterity using doctored historical archives to show a government-approved version of events.

    Am I living in the real world, or a book?
    • by anmre ( 2956771 )
      You need look no further than the Congress/POTUS stealth repealing of the 2012 STOCK Act [] to know exactly who and what we are dealing with here. We live in a land where "good" laws are fabricated during election years and silently shit-canned once the voters have been duped.
  • Back when America was a great country no witnesses would have survived to testify.

  • One way mirror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:25PM (#47610097)

    The end game of NSA is a perfect one-way mirror: They have all information about your activities, and you have zero information about their activities.

    Note that this is the opposite of what the American public needs to make an informed decision during elections.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But you see, they're doing it to protect us. It's for our own good, because there are terrorists and spies and evil people all around us and we need a powerful governmental agency to make sure we are kept safe. We need to trust their judgment precisely because they know everything and we know nothing. We don't know if some sleeper cell member in the US is going to shove a butt plug made of C4 up his ass, walk into the nearest Walmart, and self-detonate. The NSA does, though! If you have nothing to hide

      • Ignorance is Strength.
        War is Peace.
        Freedom is Slavery.

        The Ministry of Truth watches everything you do. Please report to room 101 at the Ministry of Love for your reconditioning.

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      No government wants an informed public, especially during elections.

    • Re:One way mirror (Score:4, Insightful)

      by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @03:25AM (#47612127) Homepage Journal
      If you believe that elections actually matter at all, I am sorry to inform you that you are seriously deluded. Corporations write the laws, Corporations have their lobbyists give the law to their pet Congressman, Congressman gets kickbacks and hot insider trading tips. You, the "pleeb taxpayer" get fucked in the ass. It doesn't matter who you vote for, blue or red, it's all just a shell game for the people with the real power.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    TFA describes the government hack as an exploit of the particular version of Firefox contained in the TOR Browser Bundle and targeted at Windows.

    Am I correct in that Linux-based TOR browsing should be secure from this as well as TOR browsing using TAILS?

  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:48PM (#47610251)

    I read... [] ...and it reads to me like.

    USG apparently says something in open court they shouldn't have said.
    USG makes an overly broad request to remove all record of the event.
    Judge shares that info.
    Defense argues that, at best, it should be redacted.
    Judge seems to agree, asks for details.
    USG says, "Meh, I guess it's OK."
    Everyone goes home happy.


  • by Mister Liberty ( 769145 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:53PM (#47610299)

    The NSA is not above the local law. Now ask yourself, who's running the country really, nut cases
    like the Clap and the Xander and their cheerleaders, or you, the one carrying the vote and the pitchfork.

    • The NSA is not above the local law.

      That's like saying sex doesn't make babies because there was that one time in college where you did it without a condom and she didn't get pregnant.

  • EFF is doing great work, send them some money!

  • First Snowden and now another leaker in the government. It's shit like THIS STORY which is why Americans are trying to rally and SAVE THIS COUNTRY. WHAT THE FUCK HAS HAPPENED TO THE USA AND THE CONSTITUTION?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Which party or parties are being referred to by this article when it says "The Court allowed the government a first look at the transcript..." and "...the government wrote a letter..." et cetera. Was it "The Government" or the director of the NSA? Was it "The Government" or The President of the United States of America? Was it "The Government" or someone from the DoD. Was it Congress? The Senate? We the people?

    • The Government refers to one of the sides of the case Jewell v. NSA ( [] ). The plaintiffs (Jewell et al. as representatives for all US citizens unlawfully spied on) allege that the US Government as a whole by means of their Terrorist Surveillance Program, operated by the NSA and other agencies, violated the Constitution. As a practical matter, "The Government" here are the lawyers representing the US Government, likely from the Justice Department, and whoever else in the Exe

  • And I thought she was just a has been singer? Who knew?

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears