The Lawfare Podcast

Lawfare Podcast Episode #79: The Case For and Against a FISA Advocate

By Wells Bennett
Saturday, June 14, 2014, 2:00 PM

On Tuesday, at the 2014 Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, a panel of experts debated the pros and cons of adding outside lawyers to litigation before two tribunals at the heart of the NSA surveillance controversy: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC") and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ("FISCR"). As is well known, proceedings at those courts generally are held in secret and ex parte, with only the government arguing its position. But, in the wake of the Snowden revelations, many have called for reform, and for greater participation by non-government attorneys.

The group was comprised of panelists Marc Zwillinger, an attorney with experience in surveillance matters; Alex Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Amie Stepanovich, of Access. Lawfare's Steve Vladeck moderated the discussion, which closely examined the question of whether, and how, to add more adversarial process to FISC and FISCR proceedings.