The Art of Redacting Classified Documents

With rows of blacked-out material on NSA data collection, Wednesday's FISC court order reads something like{display:none;}

Like many government documents released by the government, much of the classified information the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order released on Wednesday was redacted and blacked out. This may leave the casual reader a bit confused with the fragmented sentences and random structure.

To me, what's left behind after the blackouts reads more like poetry or as art — in a classified, national security type of way.

The poetry, broken up with redactions:

An email message sent from the user of/ to the user of/ will at the very least travel from the/ users own computer, to/ to/ and then to the computer of the/ user.

That provision requires the FBI/ The new language proposed by the government would allow the FBO to/ The government has advised the Court that this change was prompted by the fact that/ Nevertheless, the current procedures require the FBI to/ The change is intended to eliminate the requirement of.

The amended CIA minimization procedures include/ raises no concerns in the context of the CIA minimization procedures.

The government also has added/ It likewise raises no Fourth Amendment problem.

The art:

In all seriousness, however, Wednesday's revelations do show the federal government overstepping its legal boundaries on several occasions over a three-year span. The Atlantic Wire's Philip Bump explains further.