The chief judge of the secret FISA court, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, has admitted in a written statement to The Washington Post that the court cannot properly oversee NSA surveillance.
Per The Washington Post:
The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government’s vast spying programs said that its ability do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.By admitting that his FISA court must trust the NSA to accurately report when staff members break violations, Walton is trying to clear his name – and his court – from being viewed as responsible for the rise in surveillance violations occurring.
The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government’s surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect Americans’ privacy. Without taking drastic steps, it also cannot check the veracity of the government’s assertions that the violations its staff members report are unintentional mistakes.
Indeed, The Washington Post noted that Walton decided to speak after the paper uncovered internal government documents revealing that NSA staffers accrued thousands of surveillance violations a year.
The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court...The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance.So much for oversight.
It has been no secret that the FISA court has effectively operated as a rubber-stamping outfit for NSA surveillance programs. However, when the chief judge on that court, embarrassed by reports of NSA violations, admits that it really isn't intended to be an oversight entity?
One thing is clear: the wheels are falling off the government's justification wagon.
In response to the point, made in the comments by FG, that a court cannot be a regulatory body, I wrote the following:This is precisely the point.
The Obama administration has repeatedly pointed to the FISA court as proof that NSA surveillance has oversight.
But the court itself cannot possibly function as an oversight body. It's not equipped, nor meant, to do so.
And this is the principle problem - there really is no oversight, despite White House claims to the contrary.