Here Comes Da’ Judge

From Holden:

Uh-oh. Not only did Chimpy forget to inform the American People and Congress that he had decided to violate the Constitution and his oath of office by authorizing warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens, he forgot to tell the FISA judges as well.

And the FISA judges are pissed!

The members of a secret federal court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases are scheduled to receive a classified briefing Monday from top Justice Department and intelligence officials about a controversial warrantless-eavesdropping program, according to sources familiar with the arrangements.

Several judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said they want to hear directly from administration officials why President Bush believed he had the authority to order, without the court’s permission, wiretapping of some phone calls and e-mails after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Of serious concern to several judges is whether any information gleaned from intercepts by the National Security Agency was later used to gain their permission for wiretaps without the source being disclosed.

The court is made up of 11 judges who, on a rotating basis, hear government applications for surveillance warrants. But only the presiding judge, currently Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, was notified of the government eavesdropping program.


Kollar-Kotelly began pressing for a closed government briefing for the remaining members of the court on Dec. 19, the day she learned of [Judge James] Robertson’s concerns [Robertson resigned from the court in protest last month]. Other judges wanted to know, as Robertson had, whether the administration had misled their court about its sources of information on possible terrorism suspects.

Kollar-Kotelly had privately raised concerns in 2004 about the risk that the government could taint the integrity of the court’s work by using information it gained via wiretapping to obtain warrants from judges under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.


Some judges who spoke on the condition of anonymity yesterday said they want to know whether warrants they signed were tainted by the NSA program. Depending on the answers, the judges said they could demand some proof that wiretap applications were not improperly obtained. Defense attorneys could have a valid argument to suppress evidence against their clients, some judges said, if information about them was gained through warrantless eavesdropping that was not revealed to the defense.