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The president’s proposal was vague and limited, but it opened the door (if only by a crack) to a process that heretofore has been completely closed to outside, adversarial testing.

The practical consequences of the Daoud court’s ruling are likely to be limited. The court permitted only the defendant’s defense attorney, who has a top-secret security clearance, to examine the FISA application, and only under the restrictions of an unspecified protective order.

Any hearing that later may occur regarding the legality of the FISA surveillance at issue will be in a classified setting closed to the public. Nor will the court’s ruling open the floodgates to a wave of cases in which the government is denied the FISA surveillance it seeks.

Based on my own experience as a federal prosecutor in terrorism cases, FISA applications typically include ample probable cause to authorize surveillance, and most district court judges will continue to grant the government’s applications for FISA warrants.

The judge’s order is not binding on any other federal courts (or even on fellow judges in the same judicial district), and it may be overturned on appeal. Nor will this court’s decision necessarily lead to a succession of similar decisions.

Most district court judges will continue to defer to the government’s arguments that judges — and judges alone — should review FISA applications for legal sufficiency.

In the near term, however, the ruling in the Daoud case may have a chilling effect on the willingness of the FBI and other government agencies to transform intelligence investigations into criminal prosecutions if the potential defendants have been under FISA surveillance, as they will have cause for greater concern that sensitive intelligence sources and methods may be compromised.

David H. Laufman is a former chief of staff to the deputy attorney general and assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.