In a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the Times asked the court to order the government to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request requiring it to release documents or provide a lawful reason why it cannot.
The spying program was revealed by the Times in a story in December.
Maj. Susan Idziak, a Department of Defense spokeswoman, said the department will work closely with the Department of Justice on litigation regarding the matter.
The Times said a Dec. 16 letter to the Department of Defense requested all internal memos, e-mails and legal memoranda and opinions since Sept. 11, 2001, related to the National Security Agency spying program. The department is the parent agency of the NSA.
The newspaper said it asked for meeting logs, calendar items and notes related to discussions of the program, including meetings held by Vice President Dick Cheney and his staff with members of Congress and telecommunications executives.
It also requested all complaints of abuse or possible violations in the operations of the program or the legal rationale behind it.
And it sought the names and descriptions of people or groups identified through the use of the program and a description of relevant episodes used to identify the targets of the intercepts.
The lawsuit said the Department of Defense acknowledged receipt of the request on Dec. 30, 2005, but the response, required in 20 business days, never came.
In its lawsuit, the newspaper asked the court to order the materials released.
President Bush has defended the program to monitor electronic communication between the United States and international sites involving suspected al Qaeda operatives as vital to anti-terrorism efforts.