Less Than Half a Loaf for AG Gonzales

In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, AG Gonzales said he couldn't provide the operational details of the warrant application process the Bush administration had worked out with the FISA court. This did not sit well with the Senators.

Interestingly, had the administration never initiated warrantless wiretaps, it almost certainly could have kept these details secret. As I noted in my previous blog entry, warrant applications are typically ex parte and while FISA requires the Justice Dep't to provide Congress with an annual report, that report almost certainly would not have included details of any novel procedures.

But by circumventing the FISA court in the first instance, the administration raised suspicions which may now lead to political pressure to provide greater details. Had the administration been willing to settle for the half a loaf of FISA court approval for its electronic eavesdropping in the first place, it would have been assured of greater secrecy than it will likely get now, having gone for the whole loaf of warrantless surveillance.