Most Transparent Administration Ever Discloses The US Will Continue Telephone Surveillance Program

“This is the most transparent administration in history”

     - President Barack Obama

No, really:

It wasn't exactly like rubbing salt into the wounds of a US population that over the past month has learned it has no electronic communication privacy left, but it was close, when last night the US government's Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that it was granting the secret FISA court - the same 11 people who decide behind closed doors whose email, phone or browser history is of national interest and thus subject to further "examination" - an extension of its telephone surveillance program. This is one of the two data surveillance efforts by the US (in conjunction with all major private telecom and internet companies) that Snowden leaked about. Why do we know this? Because the Obama administration is suddenly serious about being the most transparent ever: "The ODNI said in a statement it was disclosing the renewal as part of an effort at greater transparency following Snowden's disclosure of the telephone data collection and email surveillance programs." In short: "we will continue spying, but at least we are fully transparent about it."

From Reuters:

A top official said earlier on Friday that intelligence officials were working to declassify information on the programs that Snowden had already partially disclosed.


Robert Litt, general counsel of ODNI, said he was optimistic the intelligence community could make "a lot of progress" in declassifying the information.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court sided on Monday with Yahoo Inc and ordered the Obama administration to declassify and publish a 2008 court decision justifying Prism, the data collection program revealed last month by Snowden.


The ruling could offer a rare glimpse into how the government has legally justified its spy agencies' data collection programs under FISA.


"One of the hurdles to declassification earlier was that the existence of the programs was classified," Litt said in response to questions after a speech at the Brookings Institution. "It's very hard to think about releasing the opinion that says a particular program is legal if you're not going to disclose what the program is. Now that the program has been declassified, we're going back and we're looking at these opinions."


Litt said intelligence officials were looking across the spectrum of its activities to see what could be declassified.


"We're trying to prioritize things that we think are of the greatest public interest," he said. "The highest priority is getting out fuller information about the programs about which partial information is already out."


The 2008 ruling mentioned by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court stemmed from Yahoo's challenge of the legality of broad, warrantless surveillance programs like Prism.

For those curious just who it is that makes the decision which US citizen (and certainly foreigner) is a worthwhile target of the Big Brother espionage apparatus, here is the full list of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges who, in secret, decide when the Fourth Amendment is merely some irrelevnat scribbles on very old parchment.

Members as of 2013:

JudgeJudicial districtDate appointedTerm expiry
Reggie Walton (presiding)District of ColumbiaMay 19, 2007May 18, 2014
Rosemary M. CollyerDistrict of ColumbiaMarch 8, 2013March 7, 2020
Raymond J. DearieEastern District of New YorkJuly 2, 2012July 1, 2019
Claire EaganNorthern District of OklahomaFebruary 13, 2013May 18, 2019
Martin L.C. FeldmanEastern District of LouisianaMay 19, 2010May 18, 2017
Thomas HoganDistrict of ColumbiaMay 18, 2009May 18, 2016
Mary A. McLaughlinEastern District of PennsylvaniaMay 18, 2008May 18, 2015
Michael W. MosmanDistrict of OregonMay 4, 2013May 3, 2020
F. Dennis Saylor IVDistrict of MassachusettsMay 19, 2011May 18, 2018
Susan Webber WrightEastern District of ArkansasMay 18, 2009May 18, 2016
James ZagelNorthern District of IllinoisMay 18, 2008May 18, 2015


Former members:

JudgeJudicial districtDate appointedTerm expiry
Roger VinsonNorthern District of FloridaMay 4, 2006May 18, 2013
Jennifer B. CoffmanEastern District of KentuckyMay 19, 2011May 18, 2018 (retired January 8, 2013)
John D. BatesDistrict of ColumbiaFebruary 22, 2006February 21, 2013
Dee BensonDistrict of UtahMay 2004May 2011
George P. KazenSouthern District of TexasJuly 15, 2003May 18, 2010
Robert C. BroomfieldDistrict of ArizonaOctober 1, 2002May 18, 2009
Colleen Kollar-KotellyDistrict of ColumbiaMay 18, 2002May 18, 2009
James RobertsonDistrict of ColumbiaMay 19, 2002May 18, 2006 (resigned December 20, 2005)
Nathaniel M. GortonDistrict of MassachusettsMay 18, 2001May 18, 2008
James G. CarrNorthern District of OhioMay 19, 2002May 18, 2008
Claude M. HiltonEastern District of VirginiaMay 2000May 2007
John Edwards ConwayDistrict of New Mexico2000[49] or 2002[47]sources conflict: 2004, 2006 or May 18, 2007
Harold A. BakerCentral District of IllinoisMay 1998May 2005
Stanley S. BrotmanDistrict of New Jersey19972004
Michael J. DavisDistrict of New Jersey19992006
William Henry Stafford Jr.Northern District of Florida19962003
Royce C. LamberthDistrict of Columbia19952002
John F. KeenanSouthern District of New YorkMay 1994May 2001
James C. CacherisEastern District of Virginia19932000
Earl H. CarrollDistrict of Arizona19921999
Charles Schwartz Jr.Eastern District of Louisiana19911998
Ralph G. ThompsonWestern District of Oklahoma19901997
Frank FreedmanDistrict of Massachusetts19901997
Wendell Alverson MilesWestern District of Michigan19891996
Robert W. WarrenEastern District of Wisconsin19891996
Joyce H. GreenDistrict of Columbia19881995
James E. NolandSouthern District of Indiana19871994
Conrad K. CyrDistrict of Maine19871994
Frederick B. LaceyDistrict of New Jersey19791985