Former FISA Judge: The Court Is One-sided, Must Protect Civil Liberty Concerns

A former FISA court judge said yesterday that the FISA court was not a “rubber stamp” but that it needs to be changed to protect the public’s concern about civil liberties. Judge James Robertson also said that court needs to engage in an adversarial process rather than the one-sided arrangement they have now. 

Civil liberties and domestic surveillance have taken center stage since Edward Snowden released secret documents showing the government is collecting massive amounts of communications data on American citizens. 

Robertson defended the court, saying the public did not know how many times the court to adjust their requests before approving them. “I came away from it deeply impressed by the careful, scrupulous even fastidious work” they did.

The former FISA judge made the comments during of the obscure PCLOB’s (Privacy and Civil Liberties Board) first public meeting since the Snowden disclosures. “The meeting, which was held at a Washington hotel, was part of the board’s outreach to get the public’s views on the nation’s intelligence operations. The meeting is intended to help the board formulate a set of recommendations to Congress and the White House about whether current intelligence programs–which include the collection of large amounts of phone and Internet records–encroach too much on the public’s privacy.”