The question before the court of appeals was whether the collection of this enormous database is "relevant" to an "authorized investigation." The problem is that the word "relevant" is ambiguous. In the section 215 telephone metadata program, however, the massive amount of information collected is not, at the time it is collected, "relevant" to any particular suspected terrorist or suspected terrorist plot.
Though improved in some respects, the revived commissions are still characterized by a startling level of secrecy. In an effort to conceal details of defendants' torture while in CIA custody, the government has designed the commissions to prevent defense teams from obtaining or publicly discussing information about the torture program.
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