Serious questions shadow President Obama's proposal to add a public advocate to the secret court that oversees surveillance programs, McClatchy Newspapers report. The public advocate, Obama says, would provide an “independent voice in significant cases” before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The details remain sketchy as some of the administration's own lawyers wonder about the wisdom of it all.
The questions include: How will the advocates be appointed? What surveillance cases merit their participation? How much power will they have? Does the Constitution allow them? “There are both practical and legal concerns with a special advocate,” Robert Litt, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in November. Carl Messineo of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a liberal advocacy group, said, “The advocate proposal is simply a cosmetic attempt to make up an appearance, without substance, of an adversarial proceeding.”