For years critics have claimed that the US’ Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is a pushover. It’s allegedly s reluctant to reject spying orders that it’s little more than a speed bump for the FBI and NSA. That reputation isn’t about to change anytime soon.
Reuters possesses a memo obtained from the Justice Department showing that FISC didn’t reject any of the 1457 surveillance order requests it received in 2015, even in part. That’s no different than in 2014, but it suggests that the court isn’t any less forgiving in an era of tighter government controls.
Its at least willing to tweak more of those requests. FISC changed 80 surveillance applications in 2015, or four times as many as it did in 2014. It’s at least giving serious thought to those demands before approving them. The problem is that the courts secretive nature makes it impossible to verify that behavior. How do you know that the approved requests genuinely respect privacy and minimize overreach? You don’t. You still have to trust that court officials aren’t just giving the FBI a free pass.
The memo also sheds some