He's joined other Democrats in leadership positions saying that, at the least, they'd be open to considering asking for more transparency in these programs. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have legislation that would declassify key opinions so that Congress could know what in the hell the secret court is doing with their laws. A previous version of the bill, on the floor last December, got 37 votes. Now that the NSA leaks have led to the revelation that the FISA court is building up a vast new national security body of law that extends beyond what the court was created to do—oversee foreign intelligence—maybe that support would grow.
Here's more bolstering for calls for reform: a former FISA judge, who served on the court until 2005, when he resigned in protest of the Bush/Cheney warrantless wiretapping, says the court is flawed.
“Anyone who has been a judge will tell you a judge needs to hear both sides of a case,” said James Robertson, a former federal district judge based in Washington who served on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for three years between 2002 and 2005. Robertson spoke during a Tuesday hearing of a federal oversight board directed by President Barack Obama to scrutinize government spying.It is more like an administrative agency than an actual court, since courts in America are created to hear both sides of a case, but it's not even like a normal agency of government because it operates entirely in secret, with no congressional oversight. And all of its decisions are classified. That's a problem in a system where rule of law is supposed to include transparency.
Robertson questioned whether the secret FISA court should provide overall legal approval for the surveillance programs, saying the court “has turned into something like an administrative agency.”
Calls for transparency seem to be picking up steam. So let's keep it going. Sign our petition urging Congress to declassify the FISA court’s rulings.