Well before Edward Snowden leaked documents about the National Security Administration's massive domestic-surveillance program, the American Civil Liberties Union sought clues through the Freedom of Information Act about how government interpreted its spying powers.
The ACLU's lawsuit, filed three years ago, demanded that the government produce documents describing its interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act. The statute empowers the government to cull "any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."
Snowden eliminated much of the mystery surrounding what this meant last year with unprecedented leaks of top-secret documents, starting with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that forced Verizon to give the government its customers' telephone metadata. Continue>>>