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Amicus brief in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials

A coalition of attorneys, journalists and labor, legal, media and human rights organizations challenged amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allow federal officials to monitor international electronic communications even if one party is in the United States. The federal trial court in New York found that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated sufficient harm such that they have standing to challenge the amendments. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (2nd Cir.) reversed that ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted the government’s request to hear the case. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the plaintiffs, arguing that the amendments interfere with important journalist-source relationships by eliminating journalists ability to make good-faith promises of confidentiality to international sources. Relying on numerous examples of instances where the use of confidential sources has been crucial to reporting important news stories, the brief argues that the government’s monitoring of communications between journalists and their sources severely burdens the news media’s constitutionally protected role of gathering and disseminating information to the public.

Clapper v. Amnesty International