There is already secrecy in intelligence cases. But today, a Judge who oversees secret hearings, resigned in protest over the warrentless searches, fearing that it could taint the work of the secret panel of jurists that he serves on.
A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.
Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.
It isn't just the judge who is concerned about the warrantless wiretaps.
Word of Robertson's resignation came as two Senate Republicans yesterday joined the call for congressional investigations into the National Security Agency's warrantless interception of telephone calls and e-mails to overseas locations by U.S. citizens suspected of links to terrorist groups. They questioned the legality of the operation and the extent to which the White House kept Congress informed.
Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) echoed concerns raised by Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has promised hearings in the new year.
These three are now joining three Democrats on the committee, in also raising the issue and calling for an investigation.
The whole idea of a warrentless search is absurd. The White House can easily enough arrange for a judge to be on call to authorize a warrant in less than a minute if needs be, and stay within the law. But without a warrant, there is absolutely no safeguard against the process being abused other than the 'good will' of the White House and security agencies. We already know that they monitor every single email sent in the United States, and every single phone call. So, they can in theory spy on anyone anywhere and for any reason. A warrant protects all of us from any abuse of this policy. And right now, given the past abuses which have occurred (for example, I have a friend who apparently ended up on the 'no-Fly' list merely because he has donated money to John Kerry), I'm not convinced that simply the 'good will' of the Bush administration is a very good safeguard.