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 .@MicahZenko There's prolly a random CBP drone that'll be flying over in any case.
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emptywheel RT @MicahZenko: Super Bowl flyovers: 2011: $109,000, 4 F-18s (over closed roof in Dallas!) 2012 + 2013: none 2014: $100,000, 9 helos 2015: …
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bmaz @RadioFreeTom @BradMossEsq @MarkSZaidEsq @danny1775 You gotta be fucking kidding me. THAT is your "expert™" take?? What a load of crap.
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bmaz @sarahljaffe @emptywheel There was no good reason to go and do that. Now all she'll be yammering about all day is butts.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @dbernstein: Cruisin' for an Unfollow, bub RT @davelevinthal: The Brady Bunch, via @adamzyglis http://t.co/s16T9reWRg #SuperBowl http://…
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emptywheel @sarahljaffe Alas. Now reminded that it doesn't take team full of nice asses to make it to Super Bowl. Tho they used bad Sherman angles
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emptywheel @sarahljaffe And to its great credit it doesn't give Gronk's crappy ass any extra points for Gronk's persistent efforts to be pantsed.
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emptywheel @sarahljaffe HOW DID I MISSS THAT?
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bmaz @TyreJim @MonaHol @emptywheel Beats me what y'all are talking about.
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bmaz @MonaHol @TyreJim @emptywheel Yeah, I have some of those headphones, they are great.
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