An Unbalance of Powers
About three months ago I wrote about the White House Open Data Policy and the balance of the three main branches of government. This was shortly before the new evidence of the far-reaching NSA domestic surveillance programs was revealed by Edward Snowden.
What is interesting (and unsettling) about all the NSA’s surveillance activity is that it is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court), which is effectively a parallel Supreme Court that operates in secret.
I was somewhat naive to think that there was such a balance of powers. Right now, there is little visibility into what decisions the FISA Court makes, how they came to those decisions, and what that means for U.S. Citizens.
There are several bills moving through congress that are aimed at fixing this lack of balance. One that looks promising is H.R. 2586: FISA Court Accountability Act, which amends FISA to let congress designate FISA Court judges, and require the FISA court submit “an unclassified summary of each such decision, order, or opinion” to congress:
Another is H.R. 2761: Presidential Appointment of FISA Court Judges Act, which will “require Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges”:
I will be watching the progress of these bills closely, I don’t accept that there should exist a body of secret law that has a direct impact on the citizens of the United States.