December 21, 2005
Domestic Surveillance Controversy: Sitting Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Quits; Judge Posner Supports Administration's Actions
The Washington Post is reporting that U.S. District Judge James Robertson has resigned from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court because of his deep concern that the domestic surveillance program that Bush authorized was legally questionable and may have tainted the work of the Court. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court oversees government applications for secret surveillance or searches of foreigners and U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage.
Meanwhile, in Our Domestic Intelligence Crisis (Washington Post) U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner expresses his support of these programs.
[Domestic intelligence] programs are criticized as grave threats to civil liberties. They are not. Their significance is in flagging the existence of gaps in our defenses against terrorism. The Defense Department is rushing to fill those gaps, though there may be better ways.
The goal of national security intelligence is to prevent a terrorist attack, not just punish the attacker after it occurs, and the information that enables the detection of an impending attack may be scattered around the world in tiny bits. A much wider, finer-meshed net must be cast than when investigating a specific crime. Many of the relevant bits may be in the e-mails, phone conversations or banking records of U.S. citizens, some innocent, some not so innocent. The government is entitled to those data, but just for the limited purpose of protecting national security.
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