US Courts Object to FISA Court Reform Plan

Public Advocate Wouldn't Be Effective, They Insist

The US court system has issued a statement of public opposition to the Obama Administration review panel’s proposal for FISA Court reform, arguing against the idea of allowing a “public advocate” who would argue in favor of privacy into FISA proceedings.

The statement was panned by former FISA head John Bates at the behest of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He objected to both allowing any advocate of the public to be involved and against allowing more public disclosure of rulings.

Bates argued that public advocates would have to either be kept so in the dark as to be effectively useless or would be such a burden to the courts they’d never get anything done.

Indeed, much of Bates’ argument boiled down to the idea that having any actual oversight over the process would be extremely inconvenient to the FISA courts, which are used to just rubber stamping everything the administration wants, and are reluctant to go through with the sham reforms the administration now advocates.

Indeed, the whole “public advocate” idea has come under considerable criticism as a do-nothing measure that would have little impact on the secret court system or its rulings. Bates seems to be conceding that and then saying he still objects to it because the guy would be in the way.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.