When we looked at the 16 people responsible for protecting your privacy, we could not have foreseen the development that emerged Tuesday morning. One former member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court — eleven of those 16 protectors — told the president's Privacy and Civil Liberties Board — the other five — that the court "has turned into something like an administrative agency." That judge, James Robertson, also told the group that his seven-year term ended after only three when he quit due to the government's warrantless wiretapping.
Robertson's appearance before the civil liberties board was at the group's third meeting in its seven-year history, and its first public one since Edward Snowden's leak. (The first came in late June.) The Associated Press reports Robertson told the group that he "asked to join the FISA court 'to see what it was up to.'" Then he found out.
Robertson quit the FISA court in 2005, days after the New York Times revealed widespread NSA warrantless wiretapping under President George W. Bush's administration. Robertson had previously refused to explain his decision. But during a break in the hearing Tuesday he confirmed to the AP that he had "resigned in protest because the Bush administration was bypassing the court on warrantless wiretaps."
It's important to note that he didn't quit because of the court's approval of the system. That came later, after the 2006 Patriot Act extension approved widespread data collection — with the FISA court's reassessment of what "relevant" evidence was.