The order allowing the Obama administration to access the national and international phone records of Verizon customers in the United States was signed by a Florida federal judge who is no stranger to controversy.
Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, signed the order April 25, shortly before his seven-year rotating term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court expired.
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Staff writer Dara Kam and staff researcher Niels Heimeriks contributed to this story.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
- What does it do? The court hears federal requests for surveillance warrants against suspected foreign agents in the U.S., including potential terrorists.
- How did it come about? The court was created in 1978 as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
- Who’s on it? The court originally consisted of seven members, but the USA Patriot Act, passed soon after 9/11, expanded it to 11 members. Three of those judges must live within 20 miles of Washington, D.C.
- Who presents cases? All hearings before the court are secret, hearings can be at any time of the day or night, and only government attorneys appear before it.