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Judge James Robertson has resigned from the FISA court in protest.

A federal judge has resigned from a special court set up to oversee government surveillance to protest President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program on people with suspected terrorist ties, The Washington Post reported.

The action by U.S. District Judge James Robertson stemmed from deep concern that the surveillance program that Bush authorized was legally questionable and may have tainted the work of the court that Robertson resigned from, the newspaper said in Wednesday's editions.

The Post quoted two associates of the judge.

Robertson was appointed a federal judge by Clinton in 93 and CJ Rehnquist later appointed him to the secret FISA court.

Quoting colleagues of Robertson, the Post said the judge had indicated he was concerned that information gained from the warrantless surveillance under Bush's program subsequently could have been used to obtain warrants under the FISA program.

The Post said Robertson, without providing an explanation, stepped down from the FISA court in a letter late Monday to Chief Justice John Roberts. He did not resign his parallel position as a federal district judge.

Apparently, Judge Robertson has had other concerns regarding the questionable legality of other actions by the Bush administration:

Robertson has been critical of the Bush administration's treatment of detainees at the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, most memorably in a decision that sidetracked the president's system of military tribunals to put some detainees on trial.

Robertson's resignation was reported hours after Vice President Dick Cheney strongly defended the surveillance program and called for "strong and robust" presidential powers.

Great to see someone standing up for what is right. The question now is how, not if, Bush's minions will perform their character assassination of Judge Robertson.

Originally posted to Glic on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:54 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wonder if any of the other 10 judges (4.00)
    on the FISA court will follow Judge Robertson's example?

    "Once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

    by Glic on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:54:06 AM PST

    •  I hope not because Bush will replace (4.00)
      them with wingnuts who don't give a rats ass about the Constitution.
      •  bush wont (4.00)
        Bush won't pick the successors.. however, the duty of replacing them falls to his chosen one, Chief Justice John Roberts.
        •  Aw come on don't be naiive (4.00)
          Who appointed John Roberts?  Who goes hunting with Scalia?  Which Supreme Court Justice worked the courts to get Bush into power in 2000?  You're thinking "old-style" democracy - start thinking NeoCon democracy and you'll see exactly what I mean when I say "Bush" picks...
          •  ahh, yah (4.00)
            Don't worry.. I know what you mean. There's a reason I called Roberts the 'chosen one'.
            •  My first thought when I read the Times (none)
              article was that Roberts was in charge unilaterally of appointing the FISA judges.  That bothered me.  Now with an opportunity to replace a judge who by all accounts was a pretty upstanding guy, I think we can count this one as a loss.
              •  Then did he really quit (none)
                Or was he forced out for not being a team player and given the "liberal" coverstory of "resigning in protest?"

                War On Christmas 2005
                Happy Holidays People's Front :: Mithras Division

                by voltayre on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 07:50:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is a poster here who said he had (4.00)
                  worked for that judge and said he was a really decent honorable guy, but not a "liberal" when it comes to light sentences or anything at all.  It sounds like it was a true protest resignation, but because this stuff is all "secret squirrel" we may never really know exactly what drove his decision.  Just like everyone else involved who might want to speak out, he is bound by oathes of secrecy that prevent him from fully explaining the who, what where, when and why part.
                  •  SECRET SQUIRREL !! (4.00)
                    I love it. That's about it for this group... hoarding their nuts. If you haven't read John Dean's "Worse than Watergate", find it and read it. It's a comprehensive and infuriating summary of the obsessive secrecy of this group.

                    corporate ethics: VERY organized crime

                    by the basque on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 08:48:21 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Roberts on FISA (4.00)
          I was asked a question about appointing the judges to it and my response was that, given the unusual nature of it -- very unusual nature, given the usual traditions of judicial processes -- that the people appointed to it have to be of the highest quality, undoubted commitment to all the basic principles, both of the need for the court and the need to protect civil liberties.

          That I think is very important.

          Beyond that, I would just tell you I don't know enough about the operations of the court
          at this point and how it functions to be able to make any representations about what I
          would do, other than that I certainly appreciate that it's an unusual establishment and in
          many respects doesn't have the sorts of protections that the normal judicial process has,
          and that I would be sensitive to those concerns.

          This was during Roberts' Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings. Here's hoping he lives up to that sentiment.

          'You can't begin to imagine how effective the Big Lie is.' N. Mailer 'TNatD'

          by jorndorff on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 08:56:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (none)
      It certainly would prove a point to those that managed to hear about it...
  •  Does anyone know... (none)
    ...what district this judge sits in?

    "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:55:00 AM PST

    •  District of Columbia (4.00)
      Federal Judicial Service:
      U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia
      Nominated by William J. Clinton on September 14, 1994, to a seat vacated by George H. Revercomb; Confirmed by the Senate on October 7, 1994, and received commission on October 11, 1994.

      "Once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

      by Glic on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:59:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  important news (4.00)

    I re-did my website! See how pretty is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:59:34 AM PST

    •  Shocking! From the article: (none)
      "...Robertson, the Post said the judge had indicated he was concerned that information gained from the warrantless surveillance under Bush's program subsequently could have been used to obtain warrants  under the FISA program.

      So he thinks they will use 'tainted' evidence to acquire warrants that provide 'good' evidence?

      Bottom-line: These jokers not only Launder money - they also Launder evidence!

  •  Front-paged (4.00)

    He sits on the US District Court of DC.

    'You can't begin to imagine how effective the Big Lie is.' N. Mailer 'TNatD'

    by jorndorff on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:00:51 AM PST

  •  Recommended (4.00)
    I hope Judge Robertson speaks out.

    If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything-Mark Twain

    by Desert Rose on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:08:51 AM PST

  •  James Robertson. (4.00)
    I've worked for the man.  He is upstanding, ethical, and not nearly as liberal as he is being made out to be.

    I've seen him lock criminals up and throw away the key.  This is not a wimp of a judge.

    The Chimperor Has No Clothes

    by DC Pol Sci on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:09:35 AM PST

  •  thanks judge for your principled stand (4.00)
    just watch out!  Rove may be on the verge of indictment, but he's still capable of a Waterloo!
  •  Bush forgot to cover his ass (4.00)
    If you're going to do something illegal like this, it is a good idea to have somebody to back you up. Unfortunately for Bush, he has alienated both Congress and the judiciary with his no-warrant spying. He has attempted to elevate the power of the executive while taking power away from the legislative and judicial branches. Most judges and members of Congress don't like Presidents who take away their right to check executive power.
  •  Bush had to go around FISA (4.00)
    If they went back retroactively 72 hours to request a warrant for tapping John Kerry's phone,  it probably wouldn't fly.  
    •  There are several fine diaries abooot (none)
      explaining the (probable) nature of the spying on Americans. The indications are that it is an Echelon type program that intercepts and records ALL elelctronic communications. In other words data mining. You can't get a warrant to spy on the world as a whole!

      This is at the root of Able Danger as well, it was data mining that turn up Atta but since the data mining included spying (NOT eavesdropping, BTW) on Americans they are having to attempt to cover that up too. If Weldon gets an investigation that will be good triangulation.  This also indicates another group of possible allies across the aisle on this isssue.

      Thank Goddess they are as incompetent at cover ups as everything else.

      Fight on Kossaks

      "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

      by buhdydharma on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 09:26:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Opportunity (4.00)
    This is an opportunity to draw Chief Justice Roberts into the controversy about Bush's secret and illegal spying of fellow Americans.

    How will Roberts decide to replace Robertson?

    Also, shouldn't the Alito hearings be postponed until the Judiciary Committee finishes hearings on Bush's violations of the Constitution?  

  •  When good people resign (none)
    I for one have watched an incredible number of people resign or be blasted out under this administration.  FDA Commissoner Lester Crawford. Linda Fisher, Deputy Director, EPA. General Eric Shinseki.  Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill. Bunnetine Greenhouse.  Don North, Iraqi Media Project.  Richard Clark. The list goes on.

    Here's an 'old' link on Anglo resignations (US, Britain, Australia) during the buildup to the war:

    Then there was 2004's "Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change".

    Is it just me, or has there ever been precedent for so many high-level people jumping this ship?  I know that thousands of good people remain, but damn! I hate to lose one more.

    •  I'm not familiar with all (none)
      the people on your list, but don't loose any sleep over Lester Crawford (Former head of the Food and Drug Administration [FDA}).  He was not forced to resign. He knew information was coming out about stock holdings his wife had in companies with products under review by the FDA. I read recently (sorry, can't remember where other than it was a Reuters article) that an investigation has now been launched against him.

      Also, as a result, Bush appointed Andrew von Eschenbach, the current director of the National Cancer Institute to serve as acting director of the FDA. von Eschenbach appointed a CEO at NCI (a position unheard of previously!) to 'run'the agency. However, the director newsletter produced by NCI is still authored by von Eschenbach. I'd like to know why anyone  thinks this is ethical. Afterall, results of NCI trials are used by the FDA for drug approvals. When it happened about a month ago, some senators expressed outrage but there has been silence since then.

      I could go on.... I've been wanting to diary this, but I log on from work and the publication I get my news from is not available online (The Cancer Letter)and I simply haven't found the time.

      I can tell you, anyone who cares about cancer research should be outraged. It's bad enough that the budget on the 'War on Cancer' has been slashed due to Bush's short-sighted plans and corporate welfare. But to make matters worse, the current NCI/FDA leadership wants to change the course of research to enable drugs to get to market faster when accurate data about short and long term risks and benefits are unknown.

      Big Pharma is having a very Merry Christmas.

    •  Also Google`Sibel Edmonds site (none)
      National Security Whistleblowers. Something like fifty folks who have resigned our been forced out of the intel community.

      A few hours before the Honorable judges retirement Pat Puchannon was on MSNBC asking if this is so bad, why has no one resigned? There ya go ya Cold War Dinosaur MotherFucker

      "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

      by buhdydharma on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 09:34:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yahoo News - pls rate up (4.00)
    This story is also on Yahoo news.  Right now it is only rated 3.5 stars, so pls click over and help rate it up.
    •  Done, thanks (4.00)
      At the end of the article it imples that the Honorable Judge suspects them of gathhering illegal info and then processing it through the FISC to 'launder' it.

      "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

      by buhdydharma on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 09:38:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  too bad he resigned (none)
    He had a good constitutional approach.  Now, when they are forced back to FISC, there will be one less decent jurist sitting across the bench from the neo fascists (language note: it is no longer correct to call them crypto fascists).

    Jorge's a renegade; there's blood on his hands, oil in his arteries and cyanide inside his glands...

    by nailbender on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 09:49:11 AM PST

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