Until recently, few Americans had ever heard of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or the FISC as it’s known by national security insiders. And that was just fine with the government.
Today, thanks to fugitive leaker Edward Snowden, the FISC is not exactly a household word, but more Americans at least have an inkling of the vast power possessed by the secretive 11-member tribunal. One example: Telecom companies were required by the court to turn over virtually all private phone records to the government, which compiled them in a huge database.
Love him or loathe him, Snowden has triggered an important debate on this and other government surveillance programs. Last week, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to stop the phone-record collection. And on Thursday, a coalition of about 50 civil liberties groups and tech firms called on the president and congressional leaders to force greater transparency.
The effort ought to include a re-examination of how the FISC operates.
via USA Today.