Court: We Don't Rubber Stamp All NSA Requests ...

... Just 75.6% of them, top judge testifies

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 16, 2013 2:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court doesn't just rubber stamp every request government spies send it, its top judge protests in a letter sent to Congress—just 75.6% of them. The Justice Department has previously revealed that the court approves 99% of NSA requests. But that number is misleading, Judge Reggie Walton said, because it doesn't "reflect the fact that many applications are altered prior to final submission, or even withheld from final submission entirely" after feedback from the court, Bloomberg reports.

Walton said he had reviewed an unspecified number of cases from July through September, and found that 24.4% of them "involved substantial changes… as a result of court inquiry." He admitted, however, that the finding was based on his reading of informal communications, and that what counted as "substantial" was often a "judgment call." Patrick Leahy said the letters did indicate that the court "is not a rubber stamp" but also that it is "tackling significant constitutional issues" it was never intended to tackle. For more on the secretive court, click here.

In this file photo, US District Judge Reggie Walton gestures during a speech in Laurel, Md.
In this file photo, US District Judge Reggie Walton gestures during a speech in Laurel, Md.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
NSA's Utah Data Center is shown in this  photo taken in Bluffdale, Utah.
NSA's Utah Data Center is shown in this photo taken in Bluffdale, Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, FILE)
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