[JURIST] A former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [Wikipedia backgrounder] judge criticized US President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program [JURIST news archive] Saturday in an address to the American Library Association's annual convention in Washington. The program has allowed the executive to order wiretaps without seeking court approval. DC-based US District Judge Royce Lamberth [JURIST news archive], perhaps best known for his involvement in the Indian Trust case [JURIST news archive], said that he understands the need to act quickly during national emergencies, but that Bush's wiretapping program goes too far. He said: "We have to understand you can fight the war [on terrorism] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war." Lamberth also said that FISC "keeps [the executive] honest." AP has more.
Last week, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile] said at a closed-door hearing held by the US House Intelligence Committee [official website] that there had been divisions between members of the Bush administration as to whether the president's warrantless wiretapping program was legal. The House Intelligence Committee and its Senate counterpart are reviewing the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text] and its relation to the domestic eavesdropping program.