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 @goodyk Had to go to the airport. Which prevented me from saying you were right. Ugh.
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bmaz @robertcaruso @KatieSimpsonCTV Hey, in Ohio that person would be dead; the border is apparently safer!
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bmaz @goodyk Meh, I think the defense looks different if they were not gambling and pressing because there is no possibility of offense.
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bmaz @goodyk No. But would really like to have seen how this game went with Carson Palmer, or, really, any quarterback, around.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @remesdh: Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses http://t.co/eB7tiZlzCH
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emptywheel @thegrugq Precisely. Some criminal networks are more lucrative than others--esp if top govt officials are revolving door in and out of it.
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emptywheel @thegrugq See also Wall Street.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @JasonLeopold: NYT Editorial Board: Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses http://t.co/BPPranpgDy
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JimWhiteGNV RT @froomkin: NYT editorial: Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses http://t.co/nqXkNZ3VQY
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JimWhiteGNV @bsonenstein Maybe tomorrow?
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JimWhiteGNV Costas the philosopher. #Destiny
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bmaz @JimWhiteGNV Yes. But the inevitable has started.
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