Judges on Surveillance Court To Be Briefed on Spy Program

By Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 22, 2005; A01

The presiding judge of a secret court that oversees government surveillance
in espionage and terrorism cases is arranging a classified briefing for her
fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President
Bush's domestic spying program, according to several intelligence and
government sources.

Several members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in
interviews that they want to know why the administration believed secretly
listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails of U.S. citizens without
court authorization was legal. Some of the judges said they are particularly
concerned that information gleaned from the president's eavesdropping
program may have been improperly used to gain authorized wiretaps from their

"The questions are obvious," said U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Utah.
"What have you been doing, and how might it affect the reliability and
credibility of the information we're getting in our court?"

< snip >

The judges could, depending on their level of satisfaction with the answers,
demand that the Justice Department produce proof that previous wiretaps were
not tainted, according to government officials knowledgeable about the FISA
court. Warrants obtained through secret surveillance could be thrown into
question. One judge, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said
members could suggest disbanding the court in light of the president's
suggestion that he has the power to bypass the court.

< snip >


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