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Judge at Center of NSA Spying Controversy Attended Expenses-Paid Terrorism Seminar

US District Judge Roger Vinson, who signed an order requiring Verizon to give the National Security Agency telephone records for tens of millions of American customers, attended an expenses-paid judicial seminar sponsored by a libertarian think tank that featured lectures from a vocal proponent of executive branch powers.

Vinson, whose term on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court began in 2006 and expired last month, was the only member of the special court to attend the August 2008 conference sponsored by the Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment, according to disclosure records filed by the federal judge.

The Center for Public Integrity collected the disclosure records as part of an investigative report that revealed how large corporations and conservative foundations routinely sponsor ideologically driven educational conferences for state and federal judges.

It's unclear which lectures Vinson attended during the "Terrorism, Civil Liberty, & National Security" seminar. FREE's website only provides a general agenda for the program and no lecture transcripts.
But Eric Posner, a University of Chicago law professor who delivered two lectures, argued in a 2007 book he co-wrote — Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts—that "the executive branch, not Congress or the judicial branch, should make the tradeoff between security and liberty."

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