Editor's Note: Lamberth, a genuine conservative, has a record of putting big government in its place. His record is a stunning example of what a federal judge who takes his oath seriously can accomplish. His legacy is a rare example of separation of powers at work.
Ex-Surveillance Judge Criticizes Warrantless Taps
By Michael J. Sniffen
The Associated Press
Sunday 24 June 2007
A federal judge who used to authorize wiretaps in terrorism and espionage cases criticized yesterday President Bush's decision to order warrantless surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"We have to understand you can fight the war [on terrorism] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war," said Royce C. Lamberth, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington and a former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, speaking at the American Library Association's annual convention.
Lamberth, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, expressed his opposition to letting the executive branch decide on its own which people to spy on in national security cases.
The judge said it is proper for executive branch agencies to conduct such surveillance. "But what we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive," he said.