Why Should We Believe Solicitors General about Warrantless Wiretapping

I’m working on a longer post about the arguments in Amnesty v. Clapper today.

But I wanted to point to this passage from the transcript, in which Solicitor General Don Verrilli responded to Justice Ginsburg’s suggestion that the FISA Court didn’t exercise very rigorous oversight, given that it had only ever rejected one application.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Is there much of a speculation involved in how — I think it’s only one time, and it was under the pre-amended statute, that the FISA court ever turned down an application

GENERAL VERRILLI: Yes, but that, Your Honor, is, I think, not a fair assessment of the process. It’s really very much an iterative process in which there’s a dialogue between the executive branch and the FISA court in which the court can demand more information, raise objections. Those get worked out, and then there’s a final order.

So I don’t think it’s fair to infer from the fact that there’s only one rejection that this — that it’s a process that isn’t rigorous.

But there was evidence in the court room today to show how false such assurances are.

You see, Ted Olson was in the room. He was there to argue a copyright case heard just after Amensty v. Clapper. And as I have noted before, the government actually sent Olson–back when he was Solicitor General–to argue before the FISA Court of Review without disclosing the warrantless wiretapping program to him. He made a number of claims about how “lawful” the government’s activities were when, in fact, they weren’t.

Given that the government has lied to FISCR before, and given that Solicitors General apparently don’t get briefed on what the government does with warrantless wiretapping, is there any reason we should believe this Solicitor General about the FISA Court’s oversight?

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8 Responses to Why Should We Believe Solicitors General about Warrantless Wiretapping

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @ryanjreilly What happened to the Post Dispatch link?
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bmaz RT @BazNoir: SCOTUS disgraced itself upholding constitutionality of executions. My account of reporting on & witnessing killings: https://t…
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bmaz @dangillmor Really, if they made it available on basic cable, who would watch domestic CNN? Not me.
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JimWhiteGNV @HayesBrown @ABC You do NOT want to know what they used to dispense that frosting.
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bmaz @dangillmor Streaming only it seems
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bmaz Oh, paging @benwizner to the Trump courtesy phone.... https://t.co/zGK3Oknbu0
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bmaz @MazMHussain @onekade @JameelJaffer Seconded. Very refreshing.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @kirkmurphy: Where would clauses be without 'and', 'but' & 'if': who knows? "@exploratorium: What’s so special about conjunctions? http:…
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emptywheel Actually even better than NBC firing him. https://t.co/Ks9yywcb7J
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emptywheel @tomtomorrow but when they become 1st and 2nd justices to concern troll themselves to death it'll make a nice punchline.
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bmaz @djsziff @KagroX Aw come on, the possibilities are endless!
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