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.