If you didn’t watch the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) workshop yesterday, there will be a transcript of it. Some of the most interesting comments came from a now-retired FISC judge who seemed stunned at the direction the court has taken since his retirement. Dan Roberts reports:
James Robertson, who retired from the District of Columbia circuit in 2010, was one of a select group of judges who presided over the so-called Fisa courts, set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which are intended to provide legal oversight and protect against unnecessary privacy intrusions.
But he says he was shocked to hear of recent changes to allow more sweeping authorisations of programmes such as the gathering of US phone records, and called for a reform of the system to allow counter-arguments to be heard.
Speaking as a witness during the first public hearings into the Snowden revelations, Judge Robertson said that without an adversarial debate the courts should not be expected to create a secret body of law that authorised such broad surveillance programmes.
Read more on The Guardian. Not reported in Roberts’ story were statements made by Greg Nojeim of CDT, who in a soft-spoken voice, politely told the PCLOB members that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act should just flat-out be repealed. The board, however, did not seem particularly interested in any such sweeping recommendations but seemed more receptive to ideas about introducing an adversarial component into the FISC process and learning more about the difficulties in determining whether someone is a US person or not, or where they are located for Section 702 purposes.