Here’s another piece of the puzzle on the FISA Court and the NSA domestic wiretapping story.
As I noted below, one of the alleged rationales for sidestepping the law and the FISA Court with these NSA wiretaps is the need for timeliness.
The problem with this argument is that the FISA Court is specifically designed to get warrants okayed really quickly and it almost never rejects a government application (I’m still trying to get confirmation on the exact stats).
Apparently, though, this rationale is even weaker than I thought.
It turns out that FISA specifically empowers the Attorney General or his designee to start wiretapping on an emergency basis even without a warrant so long as a retroactive application is made for one “as soon as practicable, but not more than 72 hours after the Attorney General authorizes such surveillance.” (see specific citation, here).
Unless I’m missing something, that really puts the dagger in the heart of any rationale based on timeliness or exigent circumstances.