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The Courts Privacy Politics

FISA Judges Oppose Intelligence Reform Proposals Aimed At Court 187

cold fjord writes "The LA Times reports, 'Judges on the ... surveillance court have strongly rejected any proposed changes to their review process ... In a blunt letter to the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates made it clear that the 11 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are united in opposition to key recommendations by a presidential task force last month ... their skepticism adds to a list of hurdles for those advocating significant reforms following former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's massive disclosures of domestic and foreign surveillance programs. ... Obama and some intelligence officials have publicly signaled support for creating an adversarial legal process in the court ... and aides have suggested the president will create an advocate's position or call for legislation to do so ... But Bates disagreed sharply, arguing that "the participation of an advocate would neither create a truly adversarial process nor constructively assist the courts in assessing the facts, as the advocate would be unable to communicate with the target or conduct an independent investigation." Adding an advocate to "run-of-the-mill FISA matters would substantially hamper the work of the courts without providing any countervailing benefit in terms of privacy protection," he added.' — The Hill adds that Bates, "... recommended an advocate chosen by the court, rather than an independent authority, for only a limited number of cases. " — More at Computerworld and NPR."
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FISA Judges Oppose Intelligence Reform Proposals Aimed At Court

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:34PM (#45969679)

    Correct. These are the same corrupt judges that granted the wide open warrants. Warrants that are exactly what the bill of rights was meant to prohibit. These judges have no respect for the constitution and they haven't had for a long time.

    It's not just that their opinion doesn't count. It's that there are strong reasons to believe that their opinions are diametrically opposed to the correct ones.

  • Re:It's rigged (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:40PM (#45969735)

    Considering the court rubber stamps 99+% of garbage put in front of them it's pretty obvious that their oversight is inadequate, even the most tough on crime judges in general criminal courts don't approve that high a percent of warrant requests.

  • Re:It's rigged (Score:2, Informative)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:44PM (#45969787)

    The FISA court isn't a trial court. Nobody is being "held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime." It is letting investigators investigate by issuing warrants.

  • Re:Hold on there... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Astro Dr Dave ( 787433 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:25PM (#45970209)
    The judges know that a true adversarial process is not on the table - and never will be. They aren't calling for real reform. Mostly they are worried about their workload. This is all spelled out in the actual document which you can get here [] They don't want an advocate or adversarial process, because it wouldn't change anything.

    Here is the full quote: "The participation of a privacy advocate is unnecessary and could prove counterproductive in the vast majority of FISA matters, which involve the application of a probable cause or other factual standard to case-specific facts and typically implicate the privacy interests of few persons other than the specific target. Given the nature of FISA proceedings, the participation of an advocate would neither create a truly adversarial process nor constructively assist the Court in assessing the facts, as the advocate would be unable to communicate with the target or conduct an independent investigation. Advocate involvement in run-of-the-mill FISA matters would substantially hamper the work of the Courts without providing any commensurate benefit in terms of privacy protection or otherwise; indeed, such pervasive participation could actually undermine the Courts' ability to receive complete and accurate information on the matters before them."

    Of course, we already know the courts are not getting complete and accurate information, and they rubber-stamp orders anyway.
  • Re:It's rigged (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:36PM (#45970895)

    Maybe I am lacking insight because for the life of me I cannot grasp how you are being modded "insightful". You're just waving about the Constitution, pointing at unrelated articles. With respect to the FISA court and its proceedings, no person is being held for crimes, no person is being placed in double-jeopardy as by reason of the previous, no person is being compelled to confess to a crime, no person is being executed, neither constrained, nor subject to forfeiture of property. There are no criminal prosecutions taking place in the FISA court and therefore has absolutely nothing to do with either the fifth or sixth amendments.

    The FISA court signs warrants for surveillance. Of which electronic surveillance must be constrained to foreign parties or agents of foreign parties with a requirement that the involvement of U.S. citizens is shown to be minimized. Physical surveillance must be constrained to property used exclusively by foreign parties. In other words, in many cases the U.S. Constitution isn't even applicable since the surveillance warrants issued by the FISA court are not even dealing with U.S. Citizens. With respect to cases involving U.S. Citizens the court is fulfilling its fourth amendment duty to issue warrants after probably cause has been shown.

  • by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:04PM (#45972071) Journal

    I know and agree, but human nature trumps honor almost every time.

    Not going Godwin I believe, but Nazi Germany is a terrible, but very valid, example of this. The need for self-preservation kept those against the atrocities from revolting, to their benefit (equation, keeping quiet or escaping to the US from Europe = LIFE, anything else = DEATH).

    Realizing that this is rational, regardless of ethics or actual understanding, exposes a core fault in human evolution, if we expect everyone to act in the best interest of those around us (society).

    We may know that something is wrong, but we would probably support it if it is to our benefit; shoot, we would support it even if there is just the perception of a benefit (this perception comment explains Republican/Democrat lifetime supporters, eyes closed, perceiving something better, but never tired of getting let down...).

    Fact: Perception = Truth, unless one is doing a physics experiment.

    I'm positive the judges in question didn't plan, early in their careers as lawyers, to eventually betray the ultimate law of the land. But years and decades of "this is how it works" twists one perception of how things should be, and then they were presented with a "fantastic opportunity to support National Security". Consider the Commerce Clause, one of the most abused sections of the Constitution (not relevant to current discussion, but the perfect example of where the Supreme Court fails consistently).

    It comes down to: No one involved in the Status Quo wants it to change. They are used to it and/or enjoy the benefit so of it. It is their reality.

    Again, it is human nature. But I also agree, those involved do not deserve the title of "Judge".

    As you do, I find the mod point requirements a bit tedious (preventing mod points on any thread one is involved with would seem sufficient...).

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson