Secret Courts Make Secret Rulings About Secrecy


If the Obama administration stopped collecting our emails in 2011, why can’t it stop tapping our phones?  What inspired the administration to stop, anyway?  What constitutes necessary and unnecessary?  How can you determine what is necessary when you’re referring to a whole country?  The Obama administration needs the whole haystack?

This is what courts are for: to make such determinations, to create such categories, to render rulings for all to follow.  Ordinary courts, that is.  But the court that allowed the collection of all emails is the top-secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  From windowless rooms in undisclosed locations, FISA courts seal all arguments and render opinions that they also deem classified secrets.  So now we can’t find the needle or the haystack.

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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