The New York Times has sued the federal government for refusing to divulge how exactly it uses the PATRIOT Act.
The suit comes after Times reporter Charlie Savage filed several Freedom of Information requests for a classified report about the government's authority to collect intelligence under the PATRIOT Act, and was refused. He made the requests after two senators charged that Americans would be deeply disturbed by the government's use of the law.
The section of the act in question allows the government to order the production of "any tangible things” on “reasonable grounds" related to an international terrorism or counterintelligence investigation. The lawsuit demands the release of at least a redacted version of the report to explain what that allows.
Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have been alleging for months that the government is misleading the public about its secret interpretation of the law. In May, Senator Wyden said that the American people would be "stunned" and "angry" when they find out how the government is using the act.
The act has been hotly debated in recent months leading up to a vote that extended the government's controversial post-9/11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps.