Judge James Robertson gets top placement on the electronic version of the Washington Post today for resigning for his post on the “secret” (read: sinister) court that oversees domestic surevlliance.

Perhaps this very public rebuke to the Bush administration will get Judge Robertson’s picture in Vanity Fair magazine a la James Wilson. 

But he did the wrong thing.

Judge Richard Posner explains the covert survelliance and why we need it:

“These programs are criticized as grave threats to civil liberties. They are not. Their significance is in flagging the existence of gaps in our defenses against terrorism. The Defense Department is rushing to fill those gaps, though there may be better ways.

“The collection, mainly through electronic means, of vast amounts of personal data is said to invade privacy. But machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy. Because of their volume, the data are first sifted by computers, which search for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., that may have intelligence value. This initial sifting, far from invading privacy (a computer is not a sentient being), keeps most private data from being read by any intelligence officer.

“The data that make the cut are those that contain clues to possible threats to national security. The only valid ground for forbidding human inspection of such data is fear that they might be used to blackmail or otherwise intimidate the administration’s political enemies. That danger is more remote than at any previous period of U.S. history. …”

Of course, what this mini-scandal underscores is that the left will try to score points at the expense of the safety of U.S. citizens–the real safety, not imaginary threats to civil liberties.