Morning Security Brief: Government Surveillance, Illegal Immigrant Apprehensions, Drone Attacks, and More

By Sherry Harowitz

►  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which reviews the federal government’s applications to conduct surveillance in national security cases. What FISC does is usually secret. The case seeks to force the Department of Justice to disclose a FISC opinion in response to a FOIA request. EFF discovered that the FISC opinion “held that the government engaged in surveillance that was unconstitutional and violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws” because some Senators forced the DOJ to acknowledge the opinion, writes EFF. EFF goes on to explain why it has taken this action: “In response to our FOIA lawsuit—and in an attempt to justify hiding the government’s unconstitutional conduct—the DOJ pointed to the FISC. The DOJ argued the FISC’s procedural rules prohibited DOJ from releasing the opinion under FOIA. But, five years earlier (in response to a separate case brought by the ACLU), the FISC itself said FOIA was the proper avenue to access FISC opinions.”

► According to the data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as reported by TRAC, in a single typical day, "two out of three — around 1,000 — [of the illegal immigrants detained by ICE] were "removed", meaning they were deported and barred from returning to the U.S. for years." About one in four "were released after posting bond, or on their own personal recognizance or for other reasons.... Only about 20 of those released were placed under ICE's electronic monitoring or enhanced supervision in lieu of detention (ATD)," reports TRAC. But what happened varied widely by state. For example, in Arizona, 84 percent were removed, while in California, the removal rate was just 50 percent. In Virginia, the rate was 37 percent.

► Attorney General Eric Holder has disclosed in a letter to Congress that four Americans have been killed in drone attacks. It was already known that a drone strike had killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric, but it was not known that three other Americans had also been killed in drone strikes, reports The Hill. “Those other three Americans are identified as al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan and Jude Kenan Mohammad.”

► Elsewhere in the news, British Prime Minister asserts the U.K.'s resolve in the face of what appeared to be a possible terrorist-related attack on an off-duty British soldier yesterday. The prime minister had earlier met with the government's emergency Cobra committee, "a group of cabinet ministers and high-level security officials that oversees the operations of police and security agencies during high security alerts," reports the New York Times. 



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