Is There a Simple Way to Fix This FISA Mess?


Is There a Simple Way to Fix This FISA Mess?

Perhaps there is a way to extract some value from the controversy surrounding the FISA court’s approval of an eavesdropping order on U.S. citizen Carter Page.

Unless and until we are able to actually view the FISA application and supporting documents, we will continue to be assaulted by competing spins from the left and the right. The truth will remain shrouded in bureaucratic secrecy, in all likelihood. But perhaps there is a relatively simple step that will help to prevent this type of controversy in the future.

It’s certainly understandable that a potential surveillance target cannot be represented at the FISA hearing, but perhaps the target’s interests can be.

My suggestion is that the organization applying for the warrant (FBI, DOJ, etc) specify an internal advocate who will have access to the application and supporting documents, and act as a sort of Devil’s Advocate for the targeted person. This would allow the court to balance arguments from both sides, and only approve the warrant after full discussion of the evidence and probable cause statements.

Whether this requires a change to the FISA law, or just an internal bureaucratic adjustment, I don’t know. But it seems like a simple and effective way to guard against government overreach, hopefully to the satisfaction of politicians on both sides.