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Judges on Surveillance Court to be Briefed


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#1 spy1

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 09:35 PM

I can tell you right now that more than one F.I.S.A-court judge is seriously concerned about the Presidents' un-lawful wire-tapping:

http://www.washingto...5122102326.html

Judges on Surveillance Court To Be Briefed on Spy Program

By Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 22, 2005; Page A01

The presiding judge of a secret court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases is arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President Bush's domestic spying program, according to several intelligence and government sources.

Several members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in interviews 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. Some of the judges said 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.

"The questions are obvious," said U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Utah. "What have you been doing, and how might it affect the reliability and credibility of the information we're getting in our court?"


Such comments underscored the continuing questions among judges about the program, which most of them learned about when it was disclosed last week by the New York Times. 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 here.

Other judges contacted yesterday said they do not plan to resign but are seeking more information about the president's initiative. Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who also sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, told fellow FISA court members by e-mail Monday that she is arranging for them to convene in Washington, preferably early next month, for a secret briefing on the program, several judges confirmed yesterday.

Two intelligence sources familiar with the plan said Kollar-Kotelly expects top-ranking officials from the National Security Agency and the Justice Department to outline the classified program to the members.

The judges could, depending on their level of satisfaction with the answers, demand that the Justice Department produce proof that previous wiretaps were not tainted, according to government officials knowledgeable about the FISA court. Warrants obtained through secret surveillance could be thrown into question. One judge, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said members could suggest disbanding the court in light of the president's suggestion that he has the power to bypass the court.

The highly classified FISA court was set up in the 1970s to authorize secret surveillance of espionage and terrorism suspects within the United States. Under the law setting up the court, the Justice Department must show probable cause that its targets are foreign governments or their agents. The FISA law does include emergency provisions that allow warrantless eavesdropping for up to 72 hours if the attorney general certifies there is no other way to get the information.

Still, Bush and his advisers have said they need to operate outside the FISA system in order to move quickly against suspected terrorists. In explaining the program, Bush has made the distinction between detecting threats and plots and monitoring likely, known targets, as FISA would allow.

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.

One government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration complained bitterly that the FISA process demanded too much: to name a target and give a reason to spy on it.

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


See also: http://www.cnn.com/2...ourt/index.html

This is serious stuff.

Pete
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

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#2 spy1

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 02:22 PM

Official's open letters to Intelligence Committees:

http://news.baou.com...ecent&rid=20695

You need to read this one for yourselves. If this man is allowed to testify, things are probably going to come un-glued. Pete
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

#3 spy1

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 10:34 AM

http://www.upi.com/N...26-122526-7310r

Bush was denied wiretaps, bypassed them

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress by Hearst newspapers shows the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications approved over the first 22 years of the court's operation.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration, the report said. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court's history."

http://seattlepi.nws...tml?source=mypi

"Secret court modified wiretap requests
Intervention may have led Bush to bypass panel

By STEWART M. POWELL
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON -- Government records show that the administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The court's repeated intervention in Bush administration wiretap requests may explain why the president decided to bypass the court nearly four years ago to launch secret National Security Agency spying on hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans and foreigners inside the United States, according to James Bamford, an acknowledged authority on the supersecret NSA, which intercepts telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and Internet communications.

"They wanted to expand the number of people they were eavesdropping on, and they didn't think they could get the warrants they needed from the court to monitor those people," said Bamford, author of "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency" and "The Puzzle Palace: Inside America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization." "The FISA court has shown its displeasure by tinkering with these applications by the Bush administration."

Bamford offered his speculation in an interview last week.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, adopted by Congress in the wake of President Nixon's misuse of the NSA and the CIA before his resignation over Watergate, sets a high standard for court-approved wiretaps on Americans and resident aliens inside the United States.

To win a court-approved wiretap, the government must show "probable cause" that the target of the surveillance is a member of a foreign terrorist organization or foreign power and is engaged in activities that "may" involve a violation of criminal law.

Faced with that standard, Bamford said, the Bush administration had difficulty obtaining FISA court-approved wiretaps on dozens of people within the United States who were communicating with targeted al-Qaida suspects inside the United States.

The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps has approved at least 18,740 applications for electronic surveillance or physical searches from five presidential administrations since 1979.

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The judges modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications that were approved over the first 22 years of the court's operation. In 20 of the first 21 annual reports on the court's activities up to 1999, the Justice Department told Congress that "no orders were entered (by the FISA court) which modified or denied the requested authority" submitted by the government.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for court-ordered surveillance by the Bush administration. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004 -- the most recent years for which public records are available.

The judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection in the court's history.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said last week that Bush authorized NSA surveillance of overseas communications by U.S.-based terror suspects because the FISA court's approval process was too cumbersome.

The Bush administration, responding to concerns expressed by some judges on the 11-member panel, agreed last week to give them a classified briefing on the domestic spying program. U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard, a member of the panel, told CNN that the Bush administration agreed to brief the judges after U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned from the FISA panel, apparently to protest Bush's spying program.

Bamford, 59, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, likens the Bush administration's domestic surveillance without court approval to Nixon-era abuses of intelligence agencies.

NSA and previous eavesdropping agencies collected duplicates of all international telegrams to and from the United States for decades during the Cold War under a program code-named "Shamrock" before the program ended in the 1970s. A program known as "Minaret" tracked 75,000 Americans whose activities had drawn government interest between 1952 and 1974, including participation in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War.

"NSA prides itself on learning the lessons of the 1970s and obeying the legal restrictions imposed by FISA," Bamford said. "Now it looks like we're going back to the bad old days again." "
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

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