A federal judge quit the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush’s secret authorization of a domestic spying program, reports the Washington Post. U.S. District Judge James Robertson of Washington, D.C., one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Monday about his resignation. Two associates familiar with his decision said Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court’s work.
Two Senate Republicans joined the call for congressional investigations into the National Security Agency’s warrantless interception of phone calls and e-mails to overseas locations by U.S. citizens suspected of links to terrorist groups. They questioned the legality of the operation and the extent to which the White House kept Congress informed. Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) echoed concerns raised by Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has promised hearings in the new year. The hearings would occur at the start of a midterm election year during which the the Iraq war could figure prominently in House and Senate races.