Search Warrants and Sect 702

The Wall Street Journal editors are worried about a House Judiciary Committee proposal to reform Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Section 702 (the proposal has subsequently been withdrawn for unrelated reasons). Their plaint centers on the Committee’s proposal to require search warrants to look at emails already lawfully collected.

The House Judiciary Committee…bill would require a warrant for queries of US persons, even though the information was already lawfully collected.

Contra the worthies at the WSJ, the Judiciary bill is well down the right track. The information about which the editors worry was, indeed, lawfully collected, but only as a side effect of the collection run against a foreign entity. To explicitly look at—to read—those accidentally collected emails, to make those emails explicit targets of a search, that absolutely should require 4th Amendment search warrants.

Further, those warrants should be issuable only by an Art III judge or a magistrate directly subordinate to an Art III judge, and the FISA court should be removed completely.

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