American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency

About the Case

Executive Order 12,333 authorizes various forms of government surveillance of communications outside the United States. EO 12333 is the basis for many of the controversial surveillance programs disclosed by the Snowden leaks (e.g., the NSA’s tapping into Google’s data centers abroad). The ACLU submitted FOIA requests in Fall 2013 to twelve federal agencies seeking records relating to: (a) the agencies’ understanding of their obligations to avoid monitoring the communications of U.S. citizens located in the United States; and (b) the steps that have been taken to minimize the interception or use of such communications. The Clinic helped analyze the objections and the limited records received in response to these requests. Clinic members then worked with the ACLU to narrow the scope of the requests and to prepare administrative appeals targeted to the seven intelligence agencies most likely to have relevant information: the CIA, NSA, OLC, State Department, DIA, FBI, and NSD. When the agencies failed to respond substantively to the administrative appeals, the Clinic filed suit in the Southern District of New York, where the case is currently pending.

On February 2, 2018, MFIA and the ACLU filed their brief as plaintiffs-appellants in the Second Circuit, asking for an in camera review of government redactions to several documents relating to EO 12333. The clinic is currently awaiting the government's response.

Key Documents