WASHINGTON – In the recent disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance programs, one document has been conspicuously absent: the original — and still classified — judicial interpretation that held that the bulk collection of Americans’ data was lawful.
That document, written by Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, provided the legal foundation for the NSA amassing a database of all Americans’ phone records, say current and former officials who have read it.
Now more officials are saying that Americans should be able to read and understand how an important precedent was established under the 2001 USA Patriot Act.
Kollar-Kotelly told associates this summer that she wanted her legal arguments out. Several members of the court want more transparency about the its role to dispel what they consider a misperception that the court acted as a rubber stamp for top-secret spying programs. The court meets in secret to hear applications for domestic surveillance, and its opinions generally are not made public.