The Art of Redacting Classified Documents

With rows of blacked-out material on NSA data collection, Wednesday’s FISC court order reads something like poetry.

National Journal
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Matt Vasilogambros
Aug. 21, 2013, 1:01 p.m.

Like many gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments re­leased by the gov­ern­ment, much of the clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court or­der re­leased on Wed­nes­day was re­dac­ted and blacked out. This may leave the cas­u­al read­er a bit con­fused with the frag­men­ted sen­tences and ran­dom struc­ture.

To me, what’s left be­hind after the black­outs reads more like po­etry or as art — in a clas­si­fied, na­tion­al se­cur­ity type of way.

The po­etry, broken up with re­dac­tions:

An email mes­sage sent from the user of/ to the user of/ will at the very least travel from the/ users own com­puter, to/ to/ and then to the com­puter of the/ user.

That pro­vi­sion re­quires the FBI/ The new lan­guage pro­posed by the gov­ern­ment would al­low the FBO to/ The gov­ern­ment has ad­vised the Court that this change was promp­ted by the fact that/ Nev­er­the­less, the cur­rent pro­ced­ures re­quire the FBI to/ The change is in­ten­ded to elim­in­ate the re­quire­ment of.

The amended CIA min­im­iz­a­tion pro­ced­ures in­clude/ raises no con­cerns in the con­text of the CIA min­im­iz­a­tion pro­ced­ures.

The gov­ern­ment also has ad­ded/ It like­wise raises no Fourth Amend­ment prob­lem.

The art:

In all ser­i­ous­ness, however, Wed­nes­day’s rev­el­a­tions do show the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment over­step­ping its leg­al bound­ar­ies on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions over a three-year span. The At­lantic Wire‘s Philip Bump ex­plains fur­ther.


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