Good Lord. Can you imagine the outcry if a Republican did this:
The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.
The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.
US officials confirmed last week that they would ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court – better known as the Fisa court, a panel that meets in secret as a step in the surveillance process and thus far has only ever had the government argue before it – to turn the domestic bulk collection spigot back on.
Justice Department national security chief John A Carlin cited a six-month transition period provided in the USA Freedom Act – passed by the Senate last week to ban the bulk collection – as a reason to permit an “orderly transition” of the NSA’s domestic dragnet. Carlin did not address whether the transition clause of the Freedom Act still applies now that a congressional deadlock meant the program shut down on 31 May.
So let’s walk through this. The Second Circuit concluded that the Patriot Act did not allow bulk collection of phone records. Congress then passed a law restricting bulk data collection, allowing a six-month transition period. But they did not actually restore Section 215 yet, so it’s a bit in limbo. Obama is now asking the secret FISA court to ignore the Second Circuit and ignore Congress and reauthorize bulk data collection anyway, using the sunset provision in the USA Freedom Act as cover.
June 2, 6:03pm: Obama says he'll sign law banning bulk collection. June 2 9:50pm: DOJ asks secret court for 180 more days of bulk collection
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) June 8, 2015
I guess we should just trust Obama when he ignores the courts.