For example, they can be used during a meeting to provide an “off the record” update that’s not part of the open records request that is sent to the requester.
Why is the Department of Justice taking up legal fight over the emails before they’ve been produced?
The legal justification for all of this comes from a letter Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. sent to the Director of National Intelligence on April 18. In the letter, President Obama directed Clapper and others to explain their position and to justify their own.
The White House asked the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to weigh in, saying that all this activity is just “a routine, ongoing and legal extension of the routine, current and longstanding practice” of law enforcement agencies to obtain phone records and e-mails with a court order.
The Department of Justice’s letter also claimed that this “has been going on for years” and “has been done for a variety of lawful purposes … including the investigation of foreign intelligence operations, counterintelligence, and cyber security.” But the Department of Justice has offered no evidence of this, and OLC has declined to weigh in.
The DOJ has been fighting any effort at reform for three years. And the Obama administration’s position on the subject has been as opaque as its previous positions on national security and civil liberties.
Is this government’s first big leak to the press in its fight against leaks?
No. The Bush administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other recent administration, and yet Obama has not prosecuted a single official who leaked classified information to the press.
Is President Obama going to pardon Edward Snowden?
It appears that there is little Obama can do to prevent the former National Security Agency contractor from leaving the United States to seek refuge in Russia.
But when asked about the possibility on Fox News Sunday, Obama demurred to say if he has the power to pardon anyone. On Friday, a spokesperson told me that the president had not formally considered the issue.
The White House also has not responded directly to the letter from the Justice Department. In February, the WH said Snowden would “face an immediate return to the United States and, at that point, would be subject to the justice and law enforcement systems.”
President Obama was asked about this during a press conference last Saturday. The president said “I’m not going to get distracted” by issues related to Snowden’s case. He later added, “I think he’s a good guy
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