Ex-Judge on FISA Court Points Out Flaw in System
James Robertson says FISA judges need to hear both sides on surveillance issues
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2013 12:43 PM CDT
Former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge James Robertson testifies in Washington Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(Newser) – The NSA gets legal permission for its broad surveillance programs from the secret court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And for the first time, one of the judges that sat on the court is coming forward to criticize the FISA process, reports the Guardian. Retired federal judge James Robertson says it makes little sense that when the government goes before the court seeking permission to gather data, the judges hear only from the government itself. "Anyone who has been a judge will tell you a judge needs to hear both sides of a case," Robertson testified yesterday before a federal oversight board.

"This process needs an adversary," he said. "If it's not the ACLU or Amnesty, perhaps the PCLOB can be that adversary." (Some members of the newly appointed Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board rolled their eyes at the suggestion, notes the Guardian.) As it stands, the court isn't so much a court as an "administrative agency," he charged. Also of note: Robertson served on the FISA court from 2002 to 2005, and he confirmed for the first time yesterday that he "resigned in protest because the Bush administration was bypassing the court on warrantless wiretaps," reports the AP.

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Jul 11, 2013 1:02 PM CDT
Why does the NSA not stick to FISA's "foriegn intelligence" surveillance program and leave us out of their games ? MILLIONS of American's phone records and computer files surveilled without probable cause. Obama hired thousands of children to invade our private records, who cheated their way through college with gadgets and toys, and now this judge says the NSA needs "an adversary" ? I guess the American people are not enough, eh ? Meanwhile they go after a whistleblower like he was Osama Bin Laden or something. Gov't agencies always need a scapegoat for their own wrongdoing, I guess.
Jul 10, 2013 3:44 PM CDT
Now here is the revolutionary tribunal Hanson was talking about in reference to the Zimmerman trial.
Jul 10, 2013 3:23 PM CDT
Ezra Klein did a good piece on this court... http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#52425964 Scary stuff.