FISA Court Judges Aren't Happy That The Public Is Upset Secret Court Issuing Secret Rulings Allowing NSA To Spy On Them

from the well,-perhaps-they-should-have-thought-about-that-earlier dept

Shockingly, it appears that the various judges who make up the secretive FISA Court, which issues secret rulings on secret interpretations of the law that allow the government to spy on Americans, aren't particularly happy about the sudden attention they're getting. In fact, they're complaining that the claims that they're a rubber stamp are unfair, and that they're human beings too. Specifically, they're upset about the recent leaked revelations that include an inspector general's report about some FISA court activities:
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, took the highly unusual step Friday of voicing open frustration at the account in the report and court’s inability to explain its decisions.
“In my view, that draft report contains major omissions, and some inaccuracies, regarding the actions I took as Presiding Judge of the FISC and my interactions with Executive Branch officials,” Kollar-Kotelly said in a statement to The Post. It was her first public comment describing her work on the intelligence court.
You see, they're not just FISA court judges, but they're human too. When you cut them, do they not bleed? When they issue secret rulings that appear to go completely against the 4th Amendment, are their phone call records and emails not subject to mass collection as well?
Kollar-Kotelly disputed the NSA report’s suggestion of a fairly high level of coordination between the court and the NSA and Justice in 2004 to re-create certain authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that created the court in response to abuses of domestic surveillance in the 1960s and 1970s.

“That is incorrect,” she said. “I participated in a process of adjudication, not ‘coordination’ with the executive branch. The discussions I had with executive branch officials were in most respects typical of how I and other district court judges entertain applications for criminal wiretaps under Title III, where issues are discussed ex parte.”
Of course, it's nice to say this, but when it's all done in total secrecy, without any sunlight or real oversight, it's difficult to believe that the process really is all that careful. Given the additional leaks that show that the NSA more or less signed off on massive data collections, it's hard not to see that as a very cozy and "collaborative" setup, rather than particularly adversarial, where anyone is looking out for the rights of the public and the limits on government overreach as presented in the Constitution.

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  1. identicon
    Secret Rulings Are Even Concealed From Other FISA , 2 Jul 2013 @ 2:48pm government/2013/06/29/ed73fb68-e01b-11e2-b94a-452948b95ca8_story_2.html

    [...] On July 14, 2004, the surveillance court for the first time approved the gathering of information by the NSA, which created the equivalent of a digital vault to hold Internet metadata. Kollar-Kotelly’s order authorized the metadata program under a FISA provision known as the “pen register/trap and trace,” or PRTT.

    The ruling was a secret not just to the public and most of Congress, but to all of Kollar-Kotelly’s surveillance court colleagues. Under orders from the president, none of the court’s other 10 members could be told about the Internet metadata program, which was one prong of a larger and highly classified data-gathering effort known as the President’s Surveillance Program, or PSP.

    But the importance of her order — which approved the collection based on a 1986 law typically used for phone records — was hard to overstate. [...]

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