September 9, 2003
Judge Not Permitted To Know He Serves On Secret U.S. Court

Information Classified, Say Unknown People Who Won't Tell Us Their Names

Retired Judge Darryl Withering suspects that he is serving on the secret court that reviews applications of government investigators under the Patriot Act. However, he has been told that whether he is a member of the ultrasecret body of jurists is classified.

"I suspect I am," said Judge Withering, "because I keep signing redacted orders in response to redacted motions that pretty much have only dates on them."

Judge Withering had been signing the papers because they were brought to him by men driving a van with a Publisher's Clearinghouse logo on it.

Judge Withering contacted the Justice Department, who asked him "What secret court?" and also "If it's so secret, how do you know about it?"

Judge Withering continues to sign the papers containing text that is almost completely blacked out. "Maybe someday I'll get to meet Ed McMahon," he said.

"McMahon or John Ashcroft," he added.

A spokesman from the Justice Department told Opinions You Should Have he was not sure he could confirm the Justice Department had even heard of a "so-called" Patriot Act.

The spokesman, who was contacted by phone, sounded as though he was talking with his hand cupped over his mouth.

"I can tell you this, " said the voice. "We haven't had a single complaint from anyone who was unknowingly searched, affected, or detained in connection with anything we might or might not have done according to whatever the Patriot Act says we can or can't do."

"If it's such a big deal, how come not a single lawyer has ever complained?"

Eds. Note: This article was published about noon and seriously reworked later in the day. I felt I had a good idea which could have been much funnier, and that my first couple drafts had not resulted in the best take on this idea. Generally speaking, I will never substantially rewrite any article I've published, except for correcting spelling or punctuation errors, coding errors, and the like. Coding errors which screw up the page will be corrected at any time, but other than that, I won't tinker with anything I've written in any way after several hours have elapsed since its publication.

I'm not sure if this is any funnier. It probably should have been two separate pieces. I am sure that I won't continue to rework a piece so substantially after publication again.

If anybody has any strong feelings about this, let me know.

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:51 AM in News