The Ridiculous Redactions The DOJ Required To Try To Hide The Details Of Its Google Gag Order

We already wrote a long and detailed post about the DOJ gagging Google for over four years, preventing it from telling Jacob Appelbaum about the government’s §2703(d) Order for his Gmail info (a §2703(d) order is like a subpoena, but with less privacy protections — which is why the government is a fan). The gag was finally allowed to be lifted on April 1st of this year, despite most of the key moments happening in the early months of 2011. However, as part of the agreement to finally unseal this document, the DOJ apparently required parts of it to be redacted. Perhaps that’s understandable, but some of the redactions are so ridiculous as to be laughable — starting mainly with trying to make sure that every judge and every DOJ employee in the documents is hidden away. Throughout the document, you see examples like this: Of course, amusingly, sometimes they redact the phone numbers, and sometimes they don’t. So I’m sure that’s useful.

And, really, what sort of court system do we have when the judges get to have their names redacted: And, of course, there are plenty of pages like the following: But the truly hilarious redactions come elsewhere. For example, despite being mentioned throughout the document without redactions, the name “Wikileaks” is redacted when mentioned in the headlines of stories and URLs. I mean… really. The redactions of those URLs? What’s that about? Does anyone honestly think that people can’t find those articles? For what it’s worth:

Yeah, that really stopped me, DOJ!

And this even extends to the exhibits of publicly available web pages, which the DOJ still needed redacted. This has to be my favorite: Now watch as I blow your mind and link to: DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers and share the following screenshot I just took: Even more amazingly, in the released documents, they redacted things in the article: Now watch as I wave my magic wand… and unredacticus! And then there’s the fact that Appelbaum’s own name is redacted repeatedly for no damn reason, since everyone has already admitted that it’s him. This includes on public tweets, like this one: It’s like they’re not even trying: And this: And there’s an exhibit with the first of those two “tweets” redacted again: Yeah, that’s Wikileaks’ Twitter account, which is kinda obvious from the background and all. But here you go: The second one — despite the claim in the document — does not actually appear to be a tweet at all. However, it was stated by another of the individuals who the DOJ targeted with the Twitter Order, Rop Gonggrijp — not on his Twitter account, but rather in a blog post about being targeted.

They even want Wikipedia redacted. I wish I were joking. And that one even tries — but sometimes fails to redact each mention of Wikileaks even in the references and links at the end. I mean, really: All of this should raise plenty of questions. Beyond just the ridiculousness of the original gag order, it now appears that the DOJ is abusing the redaction process for no good reason at all. In some cases, it’s clearly to avoid having any of the DOJ team or the judges criticized publicly — because what kind of democracy or due process is there if we have transparency. In other cases, it just seems… to be for no reason whatsoever except “because we can.” That’s not how the judicial system is supposed to work. We have public courts for a reason.

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