On Thursday, the American Bar Association made a formal inquiry of the National Security Administration regarding the agency’s data capture and communications surveillance efforts, and how those efforts may impact attorney-client privilege.
ABA President James Silkenat wrote in his letter to NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander that:
“The ABA has consistently fought to preserve the attorney-client privilege and opposes government policies, practices and procedures that erode the privilege.”
The two-page letter was also addressed to NSA general counsel, and spoke on behalf of all Bar members. The main theme expressed the importance of the attorney-client relationship in a civilized, just society, and that the attorney-client privilege is tantamount in that scheme.
President Silkenat concludes by asking the NSA to “clarify and explain [its] current policies and practices that are designed to protect the attorney-client privileged status of information that it collects or receives, and whether these policies and practices were followed with respect to the alleged interception of privileged communications between the U.S. law firm and its overseas client referenced above.”
The letter was written in response to a report by the New York Times that Australia had intercepted communications between a U.S. law firm and its overseas client; then offered the information to the NSA. The ABA first published its inquiry efforts Friday morning on its website, and shortly thereafter on ABAjournal.com.
Judicial Nominations + FISA Court Appointments
February also saw Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. designate two federal judges to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; aka The Secret Court. The National Law Journal reports Judge James Boasberg from the District of Columbia and Judge Richard Tallman from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit were chosen by the Chief Justice. Both honorable Judges will sit on the FISA Court of Review for government surveillance applications.
Judicial Nominations in Review for 2014
President Obama’s judicial nominations are once again pending review in the Senate at the Judiciary Committee level. All but nine of the sixty-three pending nominations are newly nominated this year. The five most recent nominations (Feb. 6) by the President included attorney Cheryl Ann Krause for a seat on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Obama Administration posted a detailed infographic on the diversity of the President’s court picks throughout his administration. The graphic, posted on whitehouse.gov, highlights the overall improvement in diversity of the Judiciary since President Obama took office. There are currently 63 nominees awaiting full votes by the Senate, including a federal district judgeship pending since June of 2011, and a Court of Appeals candidate nominated in February, 2012.
Congratulations are in order for all those who were recently nominated. For all awaiting confirmation, godspeed.About the author: Justine Flaherty is a freelance writer and editor specializing in web content sine 2008. A lifelong learner, Justine is driven by her curiosity for all things containing a human element, especially education and the law. Connect with her on Google Plus.