Former California Attorney General Dan Lungren doesn’t trust courts on national security, he made clear during the House Judiciary Committee debate over a major surveillance bill today.
The Sacramento Republican balked at the idea of judges having greater oversight over the government’s surveillance activities, saying that courts do not have the necessary skills to make such calls.
The legislation introduced by the Democratic leadership includes several safeguards intended to prevent government abuse of its surveillance powers, including a greater role for the special intelligence court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Speaking out against one of several amendments to the bill, Lungren said the Democrats were in danger of giving the courts too much power at the expense of the legislative and executive branches.
The bill would grant courts “the superior position to make the decisions on how we protect our nation,” Lungren argued.
“The court system does a very good job in terms of making determinations about guilt or innocence,” he continued. “But the courts do not do such a good job of protecting Americans from those who would wish to destroy us.”
His warnings went unheeded as the Democrats voted to approve both the amendment and the bill itself.
* For more on the FISA bill, see Thursday's print edition of the Daily Journal.