Attorney General

A 'culture of misinformation'? Two senators express concern about DOJ statements to Supreme Court

Two Democratic senators have written Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. to express concerns about statements made to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case challenging the foreign surveillance law.

Senators Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon claimed the administration is trying to “ignore or justify” statements it made to the court about warrantless surveillance in Clapper v. Amnesty International, the New York Times reports. The court ruled 5-4 in the case in February 2013 that the plaintiffs had no standing to challenge a law that allowed the government to collect Americans’ international emails without a warrant as long as the target is a noncitizen overseas.

According to the senators, the Justice Department has acknowledged it did not tell the Supreme Court that the government not only collects communications to or from targeted individuals, it also intercepts communications about targeted individuals.

“We are concerned that the executive branch’s decade-long reliance on a secret body of surveillance law has given rise to a culture of misinformation,” the senators say in the letter, “and led senior officials to repeatedly make misleading statements to the public, Congress and the courts about domestic surveillance.”

The Justice Department has said in a letter to the senators that it acted appropriately because the information was classified at the time and it did not bear on the legal issues in the case.

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