Another System of Oversight: Intelligence and the Rise of Judicial Intervention

By Frederic F. Manget


The belief is widely held beyond the Beltway, in the heartland of the country and even in New York, that the intelligence agencies of the US Government are not subject to laws and the authority of judges. No television cop show,

adventure movie, or conspiracy book in two decades has left out characters who are sinister intelligence officials beyond the law’s reach. The reality, however, is that the Federal judiciary now examines a wide of range intelligence activities under a number of laws, including the Constitution. To decide particular issues under the law, Federal judges and their cleared clerks and other staff are shown material classified at the highest levels. There is no requirement that Federal judges be granted security clearances—their access to classified information is an automatic of their aspect status. Their supporting staffs have to be vetted, but court employees are usually granted all clearances that they need to assist effectively the judiciary in resolving legal issues before the courts.

Download PDF to continue reading (8 pages).