Thursday, December 22, 2005

FISA Judges Want Answers On Bush's Domestic Surveillance Program

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Utah, the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, is arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President Bush's domestic spying program.

Several members of the court said in interviews with the Washington Post that they want to know why the administration believed secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails of U.S. citizens without court authorization was legal.

One judge, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said members could suggest disbanding the court in light of the president's suggestion that he has the power to bypass the court.

After all, if the president isn't going to respect the law, why bother adjudicating it?

***

Bush clearly knows that a FISA court order was required to conduct a wiretap.

So why skirt the law?

Bush administration officials believe it is not possible, in a large-scale eavesdropping effort, to provide the kind of evidence the court requires to approve a warrant. Sources knowledgeable about the program said there is no way to secure a FISA warrant when the goal is to listen in on a vast array of communications in the hopes of finding something that sounds suspicious. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the White House had tried but failed to find a way.

"For FISA, they had to put down a written justification for the wiretap," said one official, speaking anonymously to the Post. "They couldn't dream one up."

"There is a difference between detecting, so we can prevent, and monitoring. And it's important to note the distinction between the two," Bush said Monday. But he added: "If there is a need based upon evidence, we will take that evidence to a court in order to be able to monitor calls within the United States."

But the administration didn't "take that evidence to a court," which is why it is in hot water over the issue. Several FISA judges told the Post that they are particularly concerned that information gleaned from the president's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to gain authorized wiretaps from their court.

***

On Monday, one of 10 FISA judges, federal Judge James Robertson, submitted his resignation -- in protest of the president's action, according to two sources familiar with his decision. He will maintain his position on the U.S. District Court.

Other judges told the Post that they do not plan to resign but are seeking more information about the president's initiative.

"Why didn't it go through FISA," said U.S. District Judge George Kazen of the Southern District of Texas. "I think those are valid questions. The president at first said he didn't want to talk about it. Now he says, 'You're darn right I did it, and it's completely legal.' I gather he's got lawyers telling him this is legal. I want to hear those arguments."

8 Comments:

Anonymous hwmnbn said...

I like the tone this judge is taking....

"....I gather he's got lawyers telling him this is legal. I want to hear those arguments."

It's like prove what you're doing is legal. Give it your best shot! The burden is on the chimp to show he can legally override the 4th amendment. That will have to be a brilliantly persuasive argument. I don't think the "9-11 changed everything" or "congress told me I could" tactic will work on these folks.

I doubt anyone can make a successful case. The bill of rights is pretty important to this country. At least it has been.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous pachamama said...

Disbanding the FISA Court? Talk about a BS suggestion!

"One judge, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said members could suggest disbanding the court in light of the president's suggestion that he has the power to bypass the court.

After all, if the president isn't going to respect the law, why bother adjudicating it?"

EXCUSE ME? Has anyone read and re-read this? Think about what its actually suggesting...I thinks a "trial balloon" of an idea that they are trying to see if people react...

I mean, its basically suggesting that "Hey if someone isn't going to follow the law, why bother having a law and a court to try it in!" Huh? Are they serious?

Can you all imagine if it started being suggested that we just disband our court systems because if certain people are not going to obey the law, why bother trying to stop them? Hey, why don't we disband the SEC while we are at it! I mean, if there are going to be execs and CEOs of company's doing insider trading or illegal activity and not following the law, why bother having the SEC to investigate and bring charges?

What a load of crap if I've ever heard any....

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstood.

"After all, if the president isn't going to respect the law, why bother adjudicating it?"

That was (I assume sarcasm) from JABBS. It wasn't in quotes, and it wasn't attributed to any other source.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous pachamama said...

Well, the last sentence may have been your sarcastic ntrepretation, but it was quite frankly a very accurate depiction of what they are trying to imply and the absurdity in even suggesting the court should be disbanded.

Who is to determine that the POTUS has these powers? The Supreme Court? The Congress? This FISA court?

Like I said before, I think they are trying to float things and see what sticks or passes...

2:09 AM  
Anonymous The Magistrate said...

For The Judges To Disband The Court, Ma'am is the sort of action that would focus great attention on the problem, and provide a ready platform for public outrage. The people of our country do not, in their bones, like "gum'mint snooping"....

2:10 AM  
Anonymous Rodger Dodger said...

This is what the people get when the elect someone who thinks he's running a business. He's not interested in governing. He's interested in money. The peoples money and how he can best distributed it to his affluent friends.

G.W. is acting like a CEO, who has a rubber stamp Board of Directors he appointed; not a President.

I sincerely believe he has taken this Home Land Security eavesdropping a step too far. There is too much secrecy in G.W.'s white house.

The good news is he's not going to sleep as well knowning there are people within his cabal that are patriotic enough to leak when they know G.W. is doing something illegal.

2:10 AM  
Anonymous greiner3 said...

Are there enough 'good' judges to trump the DOJ?

10:46 PM  
Anonymous radio4progressives said...

That's a very important question ... one that is too often overlooked and i think what we have is the evidential basis for the people's cynicism and cause for reaction to an increasingly apparent totalitarian state.

But if the FISA courts and/or the Federal Circuits AND the Supremes simply operate on an ipso-facto/rubber stamp sort of basis, and the fourth estate simply acts on behalf of the state, well, let's just say we'll be in for a more profoundly Orwellian period than our darkest nightmares could ever have imagined even in these past five years.

On the other hand if journalists in the Corporate Media, consider the seriousness of civil liberty violations as having a direct impact on them personally, at least from a professional point of view (which relies on the premise of constitutionally protected free speech and civil liberties which we as a nation have been privileged to assume and expect)and become vigilant in the amplification of these reports on the cable news talk shows etc, spurring Congress to take meaningful action, then "We the People" stand a fighting chance for justice to prevail and our rights to be restored (because Congress will finally do the work they were actually elected to do)

And we can then rejoice and dance together, arm in arm into the streets...

But right this moment, our constitutional liberties appear to have been completely stripped away and we have to fight to restore them once again by holding every official (of every party - elected or appointed) in every branch of government completely accountable.

12:07 AM  

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