Watching the Watchers

Is the secretive FISA court too close to the FBI and NSA?

Illustration by Oliver Munday for TIME

On the afternoon of Saturday, April 6, 2002, federal judge Royce Lamberth was mowing his lawn in Washington when four carloads of FBI agents pulled up. The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)court was about to go into session. In the comfort of Lamberth's living room, seven "emergency hearings" were held that day, as the FBI sought permission to use special investigative powers to counter terrorist or foreign threats. In a speech a week later, Lamberth recalled that his wife had to go upstairs because she didn't have a top-secret clearance, but his dog Taffy got to stay, which pleased the...

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