In January, the government filed a declaration [PDF] signed by Mark Bradley, the FOIA director of DOJ’s National Security Division, explaining what records would be responsive to EFF’s request. The descriptions of the documents are extremely basic. For instance, Bradley explains that there are 200 relevant documents dated from May 2006 to Sept. 2011 that were provided to a key House intelligence committee, and that they total 799 pages. It goes on in that fashion.
At today’s hearing in Oakland federal court, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers suggested that the document wasn’t going to be sufficient.
“Why can’t I have a basic categorization of what the documents are?” asked Gonzalez Rogers.
“That list itself is classified,” responded Mark Bressler, the DOJ attorney present for the hearing.
“Are you suggesting the number of pages of each document is classified?” asked the judge. “What’s been provided is: ‘200 documents consisting of 799 pages.’ That doesn’t tell me anything. It doesn’t tell the public anything. It was never explained to me how something as basic as a list with page numbers could, in any way, shape, or form, be contrary to the interests of the government.”
“Mr. Bradley has sworn, under penalty of perjury, that to say more would tend to reveal classified information,” said Bressler. “A wealth of information is available for in camera review.” Information like page numbers and timing of documents “may be put together by targets of investigation, or adversaries of the United States,” he said.
The heights of absurdity that the American government reaches concerning the non-revelation of government documents, seemingly on a weekly basis, continues to swell.