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Two Rulings?

No wonder BushCo wanted oversight of FISA totally out of the hands of the FISC. If I’m reading this WaPo article correctly, there were actually two rulings that went against the Administration–one in March, and one in May.

But in a secret ruling in March, a judge on a special court empoweredto review the government’s electronic snooping challenged for the firsttime the government’s ability to collect data from such wires even whenthey came from foreign terrorist targets. In May, a judge on the samecourt went further, telling the administration flatly that the law’swording required the government to get a warrant whenever a fixed wireis involved.

Indeed, there’s a sense that a lot of the Administration response came out of frustration with the Court:

The judges were sympathetic but said they believed that the law wasclear. "They said, ‘We don’t make legislation, we interpret the law,’ "the senior administration official said.

The rulings — whichwere not disclosed publicly until the congressional debate this month– represented an unusual rift between the court and the U.S.intelligence community. They led top intelligence officials toconclude, a senior official said, that "you can’t tell what this courtis going to do" and helped provoke the White House to insist thatCongress essentially strip the court of any jurisdiction over U.S.surveillance of communications between foreigners.

That’s kind of predictable. As we’ve seen, when the law rules against Republicans, they tend to dismiss the law–and the Courts judging it.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.