November 3, 2013

Washington Notebook: Maine-born judicial nominee snagged by filibuster fight

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Adam Cote of Sanford will be honored by the White House with a Champions of Change award for clean energy work.

Staff file photo

Patricia Ann Millett

Collins said such a job – which is a five-year appointment – required someone with more “technical expertise.”

“Throughout my years in the Senate, I have been inclined to defer to the president’s choice of nominees for positions in the executive. Consequently, I have often cast my vote for nominees whom I, myself, would not have chosen,” Collins said. “But the rationale for deference to the president declines where the position the nominee would fill has independent status or has responsibilities of a highly sensitive nature, as is the case here.”

SURVEILLANCE AMENDMENTS

King and Collins were the only two senators to successfully offer amendments to the “surveillance reform” bill endorsed last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The bill emerged as new revelations of international snooping by the National Security Agency caused more diplomatic headaches for the Obama administration.

King introduced an amendment that would essentially allow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – the top-secret judicial panel that reviews warrant requests for terrorism-related surveillance – to consult with outside experts.

By turning to designated “friends of the court,” the panel can gain independent perspective when grappling with such weighty legal issues as privacy rights and civil liberties.

King saw the change within the prism of balancing privacy concerns with the need to combat terrorism.

“By creating a process whereby the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can turn to independent outsiders with specific expertise in areas such as privacy or telecommunications, we will take a vital step forward in ensuring the legal and technical implications of these programs are scrutinized appropriately,” King said in a statement.

Collins said her amendment would strengthen oversight of NSA surveillance programs by requiring that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board – an independent panel within the executive branch – is provided with copies of any applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The board would also receive copies of “any resulting court order that contains a significant or novel interpretation of the law and is related to counterterrorism.”

SANFORD VETERAN TO BE HONORED

Sanford resident Adam Cote will be honored by the White House this week with a Champions of Change award for his company’s work on heating systems that can store thermal energy.

Cote is co-founder and CEO of Thermal Energy Storage in Biddeford. The company sells electric thermal storage systems that use electricity – ideally during lower-cost, off-peak hours – to heat up special ceramic bricks that can store the heat.

He is one of 12 veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan to receive Champions of Change awards for their work on advancing clean energy or work on climate change in their communities.

Cote was credited with helping increase the availability of affordable home heating systems and enhancing the state’s energy independence.

A White House release indicated that Cote will be unable to receive the award in person, however, because he is currently deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at (207) 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@pressherald.com Twitter: KevinMillerDC

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