Friday, January 17, 2014

Marcus on the FISA Court

On the NewsHour this evening (which, as per usual, I listened to on the radio), Ruth Marcus waxed enthusiastic about the virtues of getting the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court more involved in some aspects of the intelligence regime than it is now (issuance of warrants to do surveillance is basically what it does, and the reforms announced today by Obama will, among other things, require warrants in more situations. Yes, that's vague. I haven't read the news coverage properly yet. ETA: Court order will be needed "to query phone number records," to quote the WaPo blurb.) Marcus said (verbatim or close paraphrase) "I'm a big believer in judicial review." Well, that's nice. But the question is whether the FISA court has provided effective, independent judicial review up to now, and I think a good case can be made that the answer is no. Taking a defective model and applying it more broadly may not do the trick.

As for no longer eavesdropping on Angela Merkel's cell phone, I'm down with that. (Even Brooks thought that was good. Always a little scary to agree with him on anything, even what day of the week it is.)

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