TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Phil Earnhardt (
Mon, 16 Jan 2006 19:42:24 -0700

On 16 Jan 2006 01:12:20 -0000, John Levine <> wrote:

>> The FISA courts were set up during the Cold War era, when there was no
>> immediate threat of attack upon the U.S., and there was the general
>> opinion that any such attacks would be preceded by sufficient warning
>> signs that the need for an "instant warrant" to record a conversation,
>> which would be used in a court case of some sort, was not deemed
>> necessary.

> It is true that FISA was passed in 1978, but other than that, this is
> nonsense. 50 USC 1805(f) specifically provides for "instant warrants"
> where the Attorney General can authorize surveillance immediately and
> then has three days to go and apply for a retroactive warrant from the
> FISA court. Since the FISA court grants upwards of 99% of all
> warrants requested, this is hardly an unduly onerous requirement.

That's somewhat circular reasoning; this oft-repeated talking point
doesn't really mean anything.

Perhaps the reason so few warrants were not granted is because the
people applying know the exact conditions under which warrants would
and would not be granted. After all, the exact same judges have been
doing that a long time.

As noted in , there
are indeed reasons why warrants are not always possible. Did you read
that article?

> John


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