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Secret U.S. court takes four months to release opinion permitting secret warrantless searches in the name of national security

Jan 16, 2009 Secret U.S. court takes four months to release opinion permitting secret warrantless searches in the name of national security

Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.) 

One day when I appeared in the U.S. District Court in D.C. before a judge who also is on the FISA trial-level court, I was dying to ask the judge about that thirty-year-old court, but knew that at best my questions would receive no answers, whether or not with a glare.

This week, we got a further glimpse of the workings of the secret U.S. Foreign Intelligence court system, through the release of a redacted August 22, 2008, opinion from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which acts as an appellate court over the trial level U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This appellate case is so full of redactions that even its case title is redacted: In Re Directives [redacted text] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

In Re Directives confirms a foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendment, and permits the Bush II administration’s rogue and rampant use of warrantless domestic governmental infiltration into emails and other communications believed to include participants from outside the United States.

On the one hand, it is better that the opinion was made public than kept secret. On the other hand, why did it take just one week shy of five months to release the opinion?

The Cold War national security police state mentality remains all too alive in the United States. Jon Katz.

ADDENDUM: Related to today’s blog entry, check out Secrecy News, EPIC’s FISA page, and FAS’s FISA overview

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