No surprise here:
For the third time in a year, a secret spying court rejected an ACLU request to let some sunshine pierce its dark curtains of secrecy, ruling late Thursday that national security prohibits publishing even unclassified versions of court documents or allowing non-government lawyers to argue in the court. [Emphasis added.]
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was reacting to an ACLU petition in July to be part of the court’s review of new wiretapping powers handed to the Administration by Congress in July. Under the new law — known as the FISC Amendments Act — the nation’s spies can order companies like AT&T and Google to help the government drop dragnets into domestic internet and phone facilities to capture all communications suspected to involve at least one foreigner.
Previously, the law said that such wiretaps had to be approved on an individual basis if done inside the United States, while more lax rules held sway if the government wiretapped such communications outside the United States. That legality did not stop the Bush Administration, which began a secret spying program after 9/11 that included targeting these kinds of communications.
The ACLU argued that the new law expanded the government’s powers so broadly that the court needed to make exceptions to its ultra-secret hearings that never allow any opposition…
The ACLU also wanted to file a brief contesting the constitutionality of the targeting procedures and the law, but [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge Marya] McLaughin declined, saying that the group’s analysis would not be helpful since only the government and the court know how the spying works.
I think it’s time to rename the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court the “Camera Stellata” to more accurately reflect its character.