The Oregonian’s investigation into how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court really works, and what Oregon senators are doing to challenge its authority:

“The statute does not give the judge the authority to turn down applications when the criteria (for eavesdropping) are met,” Turley says. “And those criteria are so low that they are always met.”

He recalls working as an intern at the NSA during the Reagan administration, when he had occasion to go inside the court.

“I was horrified by what I saw,” he says. “It was abundantly clear this was a Potemkin Village. … One can only call this a court if you abandon every substantive meaning of that term. This court has less authority than a standard municipal traffic court. There is no serious review, because there’s no substantive authority to question or reject these applications.”