Lawyer Linked to DOJ Spying Given Judgeship
(CN) - Valerie Caproni, the former top lawyer for the FBI with links to the domestic "dragnet" scandal, was confirmed as a federal judge on Monday by the U.S. Senate.
The Senate voted Caproni 73-24 on Monday for a judgeship with the Manhattan-based Southern District of New York. She had served the FBI as its top lawyer from 2003 to 2011.
But criticism of Caproni over surveillance abuses has long predated Edward Snowden's recent leak of documents indicating that the National Security Agency stretches the boundaries of the Patriot Act to collect and store hundreds of millions of Americans' telephone records.
A 2010 report by the Department of Justice described "exigent letters" that the FBI created to more easily get access to phone records under the Patriot Act. The FBI stopped using the letters in 2006, The Guardian reported.
During an April 2008 hearing before the House of Representatives, Caproni told lawmakers that the FBI destroyed any data unrelated to a "currently open investigation" that the agency had obtained from a phone company through a nonjudicial subpoena authorized by the Patriot Act.
Former Justice Department official Lisa Graves shared her reservations about Caproni's appointment with The Guardian.
"It is a shame that the White House has chosen to nominate former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni to a lifelong position as a federal judge given her narrow views of Americans' privacy rights as demonstrated by her actions in the George W Bush administration," Graves said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. meanwhile touted Caproni's nomination on the Senate floor on Monday.
"She is a woman with impeccable credentials," Gillibrand said. "This country needs more women like her."
Also on Monday, the Senate confirmed Vernon Broderick to also serve the Southern District of New York.
Snowden brought scrutiny to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in June by disclosing a top-secret court order forcing Verizon to turn over data of each call its customers make every day for a three-month period.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit shortly thereafter that asks a federal judge to declare the "dragnet" surveillance unconstitutional and stop it.