The document, known as a "primary order," complements a shorter Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court document leaked to The Guardian newspaper earlier this month. That document revealed the U.S. government had been asking Verizon Business Network Services Inc. to turn over, on a daily basis, phone call records for its subscribers, for 90 days. [...]Release of this order would explain specific constraints on the surveillance program, as well as the safeguards in place to protect U.S. citizens' rights and privacy. This is the kind of transparency organizations like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been suing the government for, and what senators Mark Udall, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have been pushing for.
The still-secret primary order provides more information about the program, spells out specific limits on government authority and includes safeguards to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, a senior administration official said.
If the government has nothing to hide in terms of the lengths it goes to to protect civil liberties, then declassification of the document that spells out how it does so shouldn't be a problem. But it will certainly give us the necessary background to have the debate President Obama has said he welcomes.