Judge Asks Whitehouse for Permission to Release Info to ACLUWhat ever happened to separation of powers? The Washington Post reports:
"A secret U.S. intelligence court has ordered the Bush administration to register its views about a records request by the American Civil Liberties Union, which wants the court to release a series of pivotal orders issued earlier this year about the National Security Agency's wiretapping program."
This is not ordinary process. The Wapo article suggests it may not be possible for the court to release info if the Whitehouse opposes the release.
The Wapo article says,
The ACLU has asked the court for copies of orders it issued in January related to the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, which had been operated without court oversight since late 2001 and which has been the focus of fierce congressional debate.
The group is also seeking a copy of one or more court orders issued in the spring that, according to administration officials and congressional Republicans, concluded that parts of the program are illegal. The orders helped provoke Congress to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act this month, giving U.S. spy agencies expanded powers to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.
Associated Press reported,
The ACLU last week asked the court to explain publicly the need to revamp laws that expand the government's authority to spy on foreigners. The request was prompted by Congress's approval earlier this month of legislation updating the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the government to eavesdrop on terror suspects who are believed to be foreigners without first getting a court warrant.
The ACLU is optimistic.
A Reagan era Justice Department official is skeptical, telling the Wapo, "I would be amazed if that request were granted in the end."
The judge, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, is a 1997 Clinton era appointee. That makes the odds a little bit better.