Nothing exemplifies an open society like secret laws. According to a report by the New York Times, an entire new body of law has been created, in secret, to govern the NSA’s operations. The FISA court, under dubious pretexts, has rewritten the Fourth Amendment.
In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.
The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.
Are secret laws even laws? And let us not forget that the FISA court is not really a “court” in the traditional sense – one side is heard, the government’s.
The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said…
In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.
Talk about judicial activism – at least when federal judges and the Supreme Court overstep their authority you can read about it. Now the government can present its case unopposed, get a decision that dilutes the Fourth Amendment, and no one is the wiser. So much for accountability.
Secret courts making secret laws, just as the founders intended.