Secrecy News

Judge Walton Named Presiding Judge of FISA Court

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts has appointed Judge Reggie B. Walton of the D.C. District Court to serve as Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, effective February 22, 2013.

Judge Walton, who has been a member of the FIS Court since May 2007, will replace Presiding Judge John D. Bates, whose term expires on February 21.  Judge Walton’s own term on the Court extends through May 18, 2014.  His appointment as Presiding Judge was confirmed by Sheldon Snook, spokesman for the Court.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reviews and authorizes applications for electronic surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  A roster of the current court membership is here.

The Court’s operation under the recently renewed FISA Amendments Act was discussed in Reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act, Congressional Research Service, January 2, 2013.

In his regular capacity as district court judge, Judge Walton has presided over a number of celebrated cases including U.S. v. Libby, U.S. v. Roger Clemens, and Hatfill v. John Ashcroft.  Less famously, he also heard Aftergood v. National Reconnaissance Office, a 2005 Freedom of Information Act case in which he ruled in favor of the plaintiff, myself.  That case inaugurated the now-routine public release of unclassified intelligence agency budget justification records.

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