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Utah judge recounts his time on secret surveillance court

Dee Benson, who served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for 7 years, says warrants weren’t just rubber-stamped.

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"Why is the [government] trust of the American people so low?" Ashdown asked.

Benson replied that search warrants, by their nature, are secretive.

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"We don’t have a hearing to determine if the government can tap a drug dealer’s phone," Benson said.

Amie Stepanovich, director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, on Thursday also questioned why surveillance court decisions are classified. The effect has been to make the court a lawmaking body in violation of the separation of powers.

"We have moved into a system of secret law that is completely in opposition to what the founders had imagined," Stepanovich said.

As the discussion finished, Benson warned against the government circumventing the surveillance court, but said he sees no need for further changes in the law or the court.

"The law is pretty good. I just hope no one has been misusing it," Benson said.


Twitter: @natecarlisle

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