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January 19, 2006


David L. Sobel
EPIC General Counsel
(202) 483-1140 ext. 105

Marcia Hofmann
Director, EPIC Open Government Project
(202) 483-1140 ext. 112


                Lawsuit Seeks Emergency Court Order
                 Compelling Release of Information

WASHINGTON, DC - Seeking to compel the immediate disclosure of
information concerning the Administration's warrantless domestic
surveillance program, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
today filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department
of Justice.  The suit asks the federal court in Washington to issue a
preliminary injunction requiring the release of relevant documents
within 20 days.  The case has been assigned to Judge Henry H. Kennedy,
Jr. of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

According to President Bush, the Justice Department has played a key
role in authorizing, implementing and overseeing the warrantless
surveillance program.  Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other
Justice officials have been in the forefront of Administration efforts
to justify the program and assert its legality.  EPIC's lawsuit seeks
the disclosure of internal DOJ documents about the program to facilitate
the current and ongoing public debate on the propriety of the
warrantless surveillance.  EPIC argues in its court papers that the
debate "cannot be based solely upon information that the Administration
voluntarily chooses to disseminate."

The FOIA, which was strengthened in the wake of the Watergate scandal,
provides the public with a potentially powerful means of learning more
about the domestic surveillance program.  EPIC's General Counsel, David
L. Sobel, said that today's lawsuit demonstrates the importance of the
open government law.  "The Administration has confirmed the existence of
the program, but released very little information that sheds light on
the key question - whether the government is acting illegally.  It is
appropriate for the federal court to independently decide which
documents should be withheld and which should be disclosed."

EPIC submitted FOIA requests to four DOJ components on December 16, just
hours after the existence of the warrantless surveillance program was
first reported.  Noting the extraordinary public interest in the program
- and its potential illegality - EPIC asked the Department to expedite
its processing of the requests.  The agency agreed that the requests
warranted priority treatment, but has now failed to comply with the
FOIA's usual time limit of twenty working days.

According to Marcia Hofmann, co-counsel in the lawsuit and the director
of EPIC's open government project, it is critical that the Justice
Department documents be released quickly.  "The Senate Judiciary
Committee will soon begin hearings on the issue, and some are calling
for the appointment of an independent counsel.  The debate is happening
now.  Now is the time that the public needs to be fully informed, not
several months from now."

EPIC has made aggressive use of the FOIA and pursued litigation for more
than a decade, seeking to shed light on government activities that
affect personal privacy and civil liberties.  EPIC's recent FOIA work
has resulted in the disclosure of information concerning aviation
passenger screening systems, misuse of census data, potential abuses of
FBI authority under the Patriot Act, and other issues.  Highlights of
recent disclosures can be found at:




Motion for Preliminary Injunction: