... stay proceedings in the case until June 1999
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 94 13:53:54 PDT
Subject: ... stay proceedings in the case until June 1999
[Another lesson in subtlety, taught by the FBI... -psl]
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For immediate release
October 3, 1994
Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Director
David Sobel, EPIC Legal Counsel
202 544 9240 (tel)
JUDGE REJECTS DELAY ON FBI WIRETAP DATA;
"STUNNED" BY BUREAU'S REQUEST
WASHINGTON, D.C.- A federal judge today denied the FBI's request
for a five-year delay in processing documents concerning wiretap
legislation now pending in Congress.
Saying he was "stunned" by the Bureau's attempt to postpone
court proceedings for five years, U.S. District Judge Charles R.
Richey ordered the FBI to release the material or to explain its
reasons for withholding it by November 4.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a public
interest research group based in Washington, DC, filed the Freedom
of Information Act lawsuit on August 9, the day legislation was
introduced in Congress to authorize the expenditure of $500
million to make the nation's communications systems easier to
wiretap. The group is seeking the public release of two surveys
cited by FBI Director Louis Freeh in support of the pending
The FBI had moved to stay proceedings in the case until June
1999, more than five years after the filing of the initial
request. The Bureau asserted it was confronted with "a backlog of
pending FOIA requests awaiting processing." The FBI revealed that
there are "an estimated 20 pages to be reviewed" but said that the
materials would not be reviewed until "sometime in March 1999."
Judge Richey rejected the FBI's claims in sharp language from
the bench. He told the government's attorney to "call Director
Freeh and tell him I said this matter can be taken care of in an
hour and a half."
In court papers filed late last week, EPIC charged that
the requested materials are far too important to be kept secret.
"The requested surveys were part of the FBI's long-standing
campaign to gain passage of unprecedented legislation requiring
the nation's telecommunications carriers to redesign their
telephone networks to more easily facilitate court-ordered
wiretapping," said the EPIC brief.
Earlier documents obtained through the FOIA in similar
litigation with the FBI revealed no technical obstacles to the
exercise of court-authorized wire surveillance.
The FBI is pushing for quick enactment of the wiretap
legislation in the closing days of the 103rd Congress. A
grassroots campaign to oppose the measure is being coordinated by
EPIC and Voters Telecomm Watch.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a project of
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, a membership
organization based in Palo Alto, California, and the Fund for
Constitutional Government, a Washington-based foundation dedicated
to the protection of Constitutional freedoms. 202 544 9240 (tel),
202 547 5482 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
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© 1994 Peter Langston