: The Washington Post Magazine, June 23 1996
: Government surveillance, terrorism and the U.S. Constitution:
: The story of a Washington courtroom no tourist can visit.
: By Jim McGee and Brian Duffy [snipped article excerpts shown here]
: Adapted from the book "Main Justice", 1996, ISBN 0-684-81135-9.
* Last year, a secret court in the Justice Department authorized a record
* 697 'national security' wiretaps on American soil, outside normal
* constitutional procedures.
* The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is a 1978 law that permits
* secret buggings and wiretaps of individuals suspected of being agents
* of a hostile foreign government or international terrorist organization
* EVEN WHEN THE TARGET IS NOT SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING ANY CRIME.
* The FISA court operates outside the normal constitutional standards for
* searches and seizures. Non-government personnel are not allowed.
* The courts files cannot be publicly reviewed.
* The average U.S. citizen might reasonably assume use of this court
* is at the least: unusual.
* It is not. In fact, in the United States today it is increasingly
* common. In 1994, federal courts authorized more wiretaps for
* intelligence-gathering and national security purposes than they
* did to investigate ordinary federal crimes.
* The review process to prevent legal and factual errors is virtually
* And the FISA system's courtroom advocacy is monumentally one-sided.
* The court has never formally rejected an application. Not once.
* For the first time in modern U.S. history, the C