I always prefer going to primary sources in the midst of a controversy. When the story broke this past week about a certain former NSA contractor releasing documents to selected journalists that included a sweeping court order for Verizon phone records, I went looking for the order. I was concerned that the actual document might be taken down rather quickly and become a thing of legend. Having had some difficulty locating it amidst all the other chatter, I decided to re-post it here. You can find it at the link above: FISC BR 13-80. It should also be embedded at the end of this post.
By all appearances it is a genuine certified copy of an Order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that was signed on April 25th of 2013. The scope of it is truly immense. Flow charts and power point presentations are cute, but a general warrant is a terrifying thing.
Note that this is titled “Secondary Order.” I would be very interested in seeing the first or primary order and even more interested in seeing this:
(A) a statement of facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation…USC 1861 (a)2(A)
“By that, do mean a statement of probable cause?” Well, yes actually. Apparently there is an investigation that requires production of:
“all call detail records or telephony metadata created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad or wholly within the Unites States, including local telephone calls.” (WHAT?..Yes, it really says that)
One might argue that the Order is limited in scope to the extent that it expires on July 19, 2013. What a relief. Until you consider the possibility that there was a prior order that expired on or about the date this Order was signed that asked for substantially the same records. From April 25th to July 19th, 2013 is 85 days. So an order of this type can be issued for not more than 90 days unless the FBI files a motion to extend that order with the Court within the 90 day duration of the order sought to be extended. The extended order may be renewed for an additional 90 period, subject to the review and approval of the Court. The last passage is a deduction of the author. The actual procedural rules of the FISA Court, assuming they must exist somewhere, are not found in 50 USC Chapter 36, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance.
These proceedings are not adversarial but are wholly Ex Parte.
Interested readers who would like to learn more about the FISA Court and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are directed to the following links: