Thursday, January 18, 2007
Yesterday, the Justice Department announced that a secret independent panel of judges, known as the FISA Court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) has been given authority to monitor the government's contentious domestic spying program. FISA has already has approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group.
The FISA court was established in the late 1970s to review requests for warrants to conduct surveillance inside the United States. The Bush administration initially resisted giving the court final approval over the Terrorist Surveillance Program (the program allowing the phone calls or emails of Americans suspected of ties to terrorism to be monitored without any oversight from a judge), even when communications involved someone inside the country. A federal judge in Detroit last August declared the program unconstitutional, saying it violates the rights to free speech and privacy and the separation of powers. In October, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that the administration could keep the program in place while it appeals the Detroit decision. Story from CBS/AP. . . [Michele Berry]