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.
By the way, this guy was a Reagan appointee.
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.
"The executive has to fight and win the war at all costs. But judges understand the war has to be fought, but it can't be at all costs," Lamberth said at the Washington Convention Center. "We still have to preserve our civil liberties. Judges are the kinds of people you want to entrust that kind of judgment to more than the executive."[emphasis added]