FISA Judges: Bush Spying Program Threatens Legitimate Anti-Terrorism Investigations

The Washington Post reports that FISA Court judges will soon convene to address the legality of President Bush’s domestic spying program.

The story contains an important point that strikes at the heart of the Bush administration’s case that the spying program benefited our national security. According to several FISA judges quoted by the Post, there are serious concerns that “legally suspect information” acquired through warrantless surveillance was used to obtain FISA warrants, potentially rendering the warrants illegitimate.

Two intelligence sources familiar with the plan said Kollar-Kotelly expects top-ranking officials from the National Security Agency and the Justice Department to outline the classified program to the members.

The judges could, depending on their level of satisfaction with the answers, demand that the Justice Department produce proof that previous wiretaps were not tainted, according to government officials knowledgeable about the FISA court. Warrants obtained through secret surveillance could be thrown into question. One judge, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said members could suggest disbanding the court in light of the president’s suggestion that he has the power to bypass the court.

This possibility is entirely the fault of President Bush and his senior officials. They knew precisely what the rules were, they broke them, and as a result, they have jeopardized countless legitimate anti-terrorism investigations.