They are called the second Supreme Court. There is no oversight, they go unchecked, have vast powers, and rarely turn down a request. Their appeals court is made up solely of Clinton appointees. Former president Obama greatly expanded the powers of the court.
Congress and the Supreme Court of the United States have no oversight over the FISA court or the judges.
The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
If true, the Obama administration allowed Trump Tower to be investigated as if they were foreign spies within the United States. It centered around Manafort, J.D.Gordon and/or Roger Stone, and Carter Page. Page never even met Trump, Paul Manafort, who also worked for Presidents Ford and Reagan, George H.W. Bush and candidate Bob Dole, was fired, and J.D. Gordon who served as the spokesman for the U.S. Navy and worked in the Pentagon under David Rusmfeld and Robert Gates, advised the campaign on national policy. Roger Stone is a gadfly disassociated from the Trump campaign.
Most requests to the court are made by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Its powers have evolved to the point that it has been called “almost a parallel Supreme Court.”
Their unlimited and unchecked powers has consequences. In 2013, a top-secret order issued by the court, which was later leaked to the media from documents culled by Edward Snowden, required a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records – including those for domestic calls – to the NSA.They let the government spy on every American using a corporation to assist.
When the U.S. Attorney General [in Trump’s case it would have been Loretta Lynch] determines that an emergency exists, the Attorney General may authorize the emergency employment of electronic surveillance before obtaining the necessary authorization from the FISC.
If an application is denied by one judge of the court, the federal government is not allowed to make the same application to a different judge of the court, but may appeal to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.
In the June case citing Trump, it is possible that they appealed to the Court of Review and still lost or they decided to write a more narrow warrant, leaving out Trump’s name as reported in the media.
The warrant is said to have been approved in October. The same process could have been followed. If it ended up in the FISA court, it was almost a slam dunk. If it went to the Court of Review and ended up with Clinton judges, it definitely was a slam dunk.
The Court of Review is comprised of three Clinton appointees though one Richard Charles Tallman, is a registered Republican. The other two are José Cabranes, appointed to his first judgeship by Jimmy Carter and to FISA by Bill Clinton. William Curtis Bryson is a Clinton appointee.
FISA warrants are almost never turned down. FISA is a rubber stamp. During the 25 years from 1979 to 2004, 18,742 warrants were granted, while only 4 were rejected. Fewer than 200 requests had to be modified before being accepted, almost all of them in 2003 and 2004.
Imagine how bad the first Trump warrant must have been.
Even though they are rarely, extremely rarely, turned down, the June order was turned down.
On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that the Bush administration had been conducting surveillance against U.S. citizens without the knowledge of the court since 2002. Such is the power of the Court.
In 2011, the Obama Administration secretly won permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases.
The searches take place under a surveillance program Congress authorized in 2008 under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the target must be a foreigner “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, and the court must approve the targeting procedures in an order good for one year.
But a warrant for each target would thus no longer be required. That means that In July 2013, The New York Times published disclosures from anonymous government whistleblowers of secret law written by the court holding that vast collections of data on all Americans (even those not connected in any way to foreign enemies) amassed by the NSA do not violate the warrant requirements of Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reported that anyone suspected of being involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage or cyber-attacks, according to the court, may be considered a legitimate target for warrantless surveillance. Acting like a parallel U.S. Supreme Court, the court greatly broadened the “special-needs” exception to do so.
All of this is done without debate and without Congress.
The court’s judges are appointed solely by the Chief Justice of the United States without confirmation or oversight by the U.S. Congress. This gives the chief justice the ability to appoint like-minded judges and create a court without diversity.”The judges are hand-picked by someone who, through his votes on the Supreme Court, we have come to learn has a particular view on civil liberties and law enforcement”.
The court has been fully politicized and usurps Congress and the Supreme Court.
Obama promised no more wiretapping, all the while he was growing his powers to secretly wiretap anyone in secret.