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 RT @HanniFakhoury: @bmaz @robertcaruso nope but not surprised; exactly what @marciahofmann warned about when fingerprint ID came out: http:…
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bmaz @HanniFakhoury @robertcaruso @marciahofmann I sure don't like it, but under law as I understand it, it seems a legitimate ruling.
19mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @robertcaruso: VA Beach judge rules law enforcement can compel you to use TouchID/fingerprint to unlock your iPhone/mobile device http:/…
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bmaz @HanniFakhoury @robertcaruso @marciahofmann Right. Sucks, but predictable.
24mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @HanniFakhoury You see this on compelled fingerprint phone unlock in VA? http://t.co/MJNRKJjbz7 @robertcaruso
27mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel It's almost as all these Five Eyes countries were working in concert in establishing legal basis for their global dragnet.
30mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel And Canada joins the rest of the Five Eyes in expanding their country's Five Eyes assertion it can spy everywhere. http://t.co/No4TlWBumW
31mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Barbaric beheadings: ISIL, Saudi Arabia, and Oklahoma. http://t.co/U4AYEGllS8
38mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Thinking @iamjohnoliver should do an extended piece on Nurse Hickox bc it's perfect example of US idiocy and he'd do a perfect job.
40mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Realizing that FBI could have had Awlaki tapped under PAA after all. Would be interesting for defendants found off his collex.
42mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @froomkin Rarely is the question asked, is our spooks intelligenceing? https://t.co/vhJWngCP1f
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @froomkin Rarely is the question asked: Is our spooks learning?
48mreplyretweetfavorite
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