Judge James Zagel FISA judge, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Blagojevich trial judge, April order access Verizon phone records, John Roberts appointment
“Why did Judge James Zagel allow only 2 percent of the Blagojevich wiretaps to be released?”…Citizen Wells
“I can tell you that, based on court rules and procedures, Judge James Zagel carries some of the blame for the delay in the transcripts.
The question is, what was Judge Zagel’s motivation?”…Citizen Wells
From the Chicago SunTimes June 1o, 2013.
“Chicago judge Zagel sits on secret FISA surveillance court”
“U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel regularly presides over high-profile cases in Chicago — notably Rod Blagojevich’s corruption and the Family Secrets mob trials — but much lesser known is his secret role on the most secret court in the nation.
Zagel is one of 11 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — the court in the news because the April order signed by one of its judges, Roger Vinson, allowed the National Security Agency to collect tens of millions of Verizon phone records of its U.S. customers.
The court is nicknamed the “FISA Court” after the 1978 law creating it, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A FISA Court judge approved a government request for the collection of Internet and social media records in the program code-named “PRISM.”
Combined, the Verizon and PRISM leaks have touched off a national debate about privacy and anti-terrorism surveillance in the post-9/11 era as well as whether self-admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden — now in hiding — should be treated as a hero or a criminal, because it is only a matter of time before he faces a federal indictment.
From time to time Zagel leaves his high-ceiling courtroom in the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, where the public is free to observe his trials, to travel to Washington for FISA Court business at the District Court building here, a short stroll from the Capitol.
According to FISA court spokesman Sheldon Snook, the 11 FISA judges rotate one-week stints in Washington, so Zagel leaves his bench in Chicago for FISA work as part of a regular routine.
A former Justice Department attorney I talked to — who handled FISA-related matters — told me FISA court personnel work in a secret room the intelligence community calls a “SKIFF” — a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.
A SKIFF is a windowless secure room — it may be filled with white noise to avoid eavesdropping —where a FISA Court judge such as Zagel reviews highly classified applications from Justice Department lawyers to allow surveillance.
Zagel, 72, entered this secret world on May 18, 2008, tapped for the spot by John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States who appoints all the FISA Court judges. Zagel’s term runs to May 18, 2015.”
Thanks to commenter Bessie.