Ashcroft v. “Secret Court”: Court 1, Ashcroft 0

Washington Post: Secret Court Rebuffs Ashcroft. In an almost unprecedented decision, the court that oversees the Justice Department’s requests for wiretaps and search warrants refused to give the Justice Department broad powers because they’ve done such a bad job providing evidence to date. Apparently this is the first time the FISA court has ever unanimously voted to release an opinion.

According to the article, the court “alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials supplied erroneous information to the court in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps.” As a result, the court felt that giving Justice carte blanche under Ashcroft’s proposed new procedures would “would have given prosecutors too much control over counterintelligence investigations and would have effectively allowed the government to misuse intelligence information for criminal cases.”

When even your rubberstamp court of record is telling you they don’t trust you with extended powers, your brain, if you were Attorney General, might dig up something long forgotten from your civics classes. Something about checks and balances, perhaps, or limits of government power. Probably not anything about the Bill of Rights, but hey, we can always hope.