George Z. Singal, a federal judge in Maine, has been appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Singal’s appointment was announced Wednesday by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Singal will serve a seven-year term on the court, beginning next Monday.

The court is composed of 11 U.S. District Court judges. Known as the FISA court, for the 1978 act that established the panel, the court decides whether to approve wiretaps, other surveillance activities and search warrants connected to investigations of foreign intelligence operations. The court has been controversial in recent years, especially after it approved an investigation into alleged contacts between a member of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

Most of the court’s activities and its decisions are secret. According to the court’s report on its 2018 activities, the panel received 1,318 applications for approval of intelligence activities last year, of which 985 were approved. In addition, 261 were approved but modified, 42 were denied in part and 30 were denied completely.

Singal, 74, has been on the federal bench since President Bill Clinton appointed him in July 2000. According to his biography on a federal website, he was born in an Italian refugee camp and his family, which had fled Poland, emigrated to Bangor in 1949. Singal is a naturalized American citizen and graduated from the University of Maine and Harvard Law School.


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