An undated file photo of famed author Franz Kafka. (AP Photo/ho)

When Edward Snowden first went public, he did it by leaking a 4-page order from a secret court called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court. Founded in 1978 after the Watergate scandal and investigations by the Church Committee, the FISA court was supposed to be a bulwark against secret government surveillance. In 2006, it authorized the NSA call records program – the single largest domestic surveillance program in American history.

“The court” in Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial is a shadowy tribunal that tries (and executes) Josef K., the story’s protagonist, without informing him of the crime he’s charged with, the witnesses against him, or how he can defend himself. (Worth noting: The FISA court doesn’t “try” anyone. Also, it doesn’t kill people.)

Congress is debating a bill that would make the FISA court more transparent. In the meantime, can you tell the difference between the FISA court and Kafka’s court?

People who are served with court orders have to keep them secret. 
","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"42134a48-21f9-4f9e-a384-f41673cd5158","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"Right! Recipients of orders from the FISA court are typically prohibited from speaking about them in public. These orders are so secret that some recipients report actually having to return the copy of the order they received after reading it. "},{"optionId":"a23b4d62-e8cb-4274-9f99-24adc9df5dae","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Nope, in The Trial, Josef K. is free to talk about his case with his family and acquaintances "},{"optionId":"79ab7b7e-26d3-4746-bfd7-266e53b2396a","optionText":"Both","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Nope, just the FISA court. In The Trial, Josef K. is free to discuss his case with family and acquaintances "}],"answerKey":["42134a48-21f9-4f9e-a384-f41673cd5158"],"createdDate":1432248789071,"lastUpdated":1432250589897,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"6129ee3a-f372-4ec8-99d7-5b9ee5a5f559","questionText":"Judges hear only one side of the case – the government’s.","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"fad2990e-dcfb-403a-baf5-3699d9bea645","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"The FISA court, again. Most proceedings before the FISA court are "ex parte," meaning that judges hear from only one party, e.g. the FBI. "},{"optionId":"88a5e69d-bc34-4dec-9dc2-0bf284c1c32b","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Sorry, Josef K. was allowed to argue his case before the court, even though he didn't know what he was arguing about."},{"optionId":"410e7822-497a-43d3-9ff3-26a01df1bc5f","optionText":"Both","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Most proceedings before the FISA court are "ex parte," meaning that judges hear from only one party, e.g. the FBI. But Josef K. was allowed to argue his case before the court, even though he didn't know what he was arguing about. "}],"answerKey":["fad2990e-dcfb-403a-baf5-3699d9bea645"],"createdDate":1432248789074,"lastUpdated":1432250589900,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"f80f5232-8eee-4497-95ba-d3f6b185d87b","questionText":"Lawyers are barred from reading secret government filings about their clients. ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"89ff6b50-3297-4bab-b328-7b301b56ca6c","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"

Lawyers who have practiced before the FISA court do report not being able to read all of the classified filings against their clients. But this also applies in Kafka's court. 

"},{"optionId":"1b2afdc7-3eb1-48a9-bb64-d1f453cb94e3","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Lawyers in The Trial are frequently unable to read the charges filed against their clients. But something similar also happens in the FISA court, where lawyers report not being able to read all of the classified filings against their clients. "},{"optionId":"e05d5858-98e6-4d8a-8e9c-4fab3a1c88c8","optionText":"Both","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"This is something the FISA court and Kafka's court have in common. Lawyers who have practiced before the FISA court do report not being able to read all of the classified filings against their clients. Lawyers in The Trial are also frequently unable to read the charges filed against their clients. "}],"answerKey":["e05d5858-98e6-4d8a-8e9c-4fab3a1c88c8"],"createdDate":1432248789078,"lastUpdated":1432250589904,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"41680891-4ebb-44ed-9912-fc76484a2e82","questionText":"Lawyers have to respond to secret government filings – without reading them. ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"4d654322-adc6-4bf2-ba8a-1ddaadb42319","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"This happens in the FISA court, but it also occurs in The Trial. "},{"optionId":"db4c0393-417a-4007-b58a-caa7e2652875","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"This happens in The Trial, but it also happens to real lawyers practicing in the FISA court. "},{"optionId":"9c6674a9-1d76-4cce-bffb-7661687e94c9","optionText":"Both","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"This another thing the FISA court and Kafka's court have in common. "}],"answerKey":["9c6674a9-1d76-4cce-bffb-7661687e94c9"],"createdDate":1432248789081,"lastUpdated":1432250589907,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"a38a3e42-1e55-4c67-992d-855ea043e5ea","questionText":"Section II. The FISA court has been the subject of intense debate in Congress and the federal courts. Which of these are quotes from real government officials discussing the FISA court, and which are direct quotes from The Trial?

“…proceedings are generally kept secret not only from the public but also from the accused.”
","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"3c956ce8-4067-4e61-ade4-6d34eb386322","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"This is something Josef K. learns about court procedure."},{"optionId":"29b56354-fe4e-40c8-b9db-7776f85d3827","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"This is something Josef K. learns about court procedure."}],"answerKey":["29b56354-fe4e-40c8-b9db-7776f85d3827"],"createdDate":1432248789084,"lastUpdated":1432250589910,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"5134a451-382e-4ea0-b1a8-91d9a0e32f2f","questionText":""The public cannot argue that the… opinion should be released until it has seen the opinion, and it cannot see the opinion until it has been released.”  ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"0d650dd3-8858-448c-b5b0-e536576f0efd","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said this in an address at Harvard Law School arguing for FISA court reform.  "},{"optionId":"626437a5-f7a9-4007-94d7-2038af7b1b3b","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said this in an address at Harvard Law School arguing for FISA court reform.  "}],"answerKey":["0d650dd3-8858-448c-b5b0-e536576f0efd"],"createdDate":1432248789087,"lastUpdated":1432250589913,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"d412cc09-743e-4398-b89d-ae8fdd9c0bc8","questionText":"“The targets of their proceedings are ordinarily not represented by counsel. Indeed it seems likely that targets are usually unaware of the existence of the proceedings...” ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"987147c3-d01b-4535-bdfc-dd365ec4d8cf","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"Judge Robert D. Sack wrote this in his concurring opinion in the Second Circuit’s decision that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not authorize the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records. "},{"optionId":"e47c0761-e3c2-4be1-b8d2-7363e05ab4ce","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Sorry, Judge Robert D. Sack wrote this in his concurring opinion in the Second Circuit’s decision that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not authorize the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records. "}],"answerKey":["987147c3-d01b-4535-bdfc-dd365ec4d8cf"],"createdDate":1432249480644,"lastUpdated":1432250589916,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"ff67c021-1966-451d-a179-d8760dd0962f","questionText":""The courts don’t make their final conclusions public, not even the judges are allowed to know about them, so that all we know about these earlier cases are just legends.” ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"ca65c14f-266e-4b7a-9144-63d2baf64b6d","optionText":"FISA court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Sorry, this is advice a court insider gives to Josef K. "},{"optionId":"392fa13c-81fa-4789-9b45-5b63136fd663","optionText":"Kafka court","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"This is advice a court insider gives to Josef K. "}],"answerKey":["392fa13c-81fa-4789-9b45-5b63136fd663"],"createdDate":1432249480679,"lastUpdated":1432250589920,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"5b2ec9f7-5e12-4050-8da5-fcb27a2ac8f1","questionText":"
Section III. How about some extra FISA court trivia?

In 2013, a private attorney who argued before the FISA court, Marc Zwillinger, testified about the experience before an independent oversight board. Which of the following is an actual statement from his testimony? ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"9fd023f8-c601-4569-8381-1ce4eb378702","optionText":"\"filing documents with the court... has always been a little bit like trying to get a letter to Santa Claus\"","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"This is an actual thing he said.  "},{"optionId":"25427e81-5500-462f-87cd-3643c0ef8946","optionText":"“Where’s my secret decoder ring?”","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Sorry, we made that one up. The correct answer was "filing documents with the court... has always been a little bit like trying to get a letter to Santa Claus." "},{"optionId":"09cf8925-8e15-4370-9386-6f964a8a8fe7","optionText":"“Arguing before the court can be fun, if you like debating people while wearing noise-cancelling headphones.\"","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Sorry, we made that one up. The correct answer was "filing documents with the court... has always been a little bit like trying to get a letter to Santa Claus." "},{"optionId":"eb6ecdcf-8022-4f25-b1a6-684509678632","optionText":"“You asked me if I’ve spoken to a FISA court judge. I don’t know, have I met Keyser Söze?\"","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Sorry, we made that one up. The correct answer was "filing documents with the court... has always been a little bit like trying to get a letter to Santa Claus." "}],"answerKey":["9fd023f8-c601-4569-8381-1ce4eb378702"],"createdDate":1432249480683,"lastUpdated":1432250589923,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"51dd3e29-ff47-4be5-b7ff-08159b712810","questionText":"In The Trial, an expert on that court declares: “I must admit, I never saw a single actual acquittal.” Historically, what percentage of government surveillance applications does the FISA court reject?  ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"e62a77d0-43d1-48d6-a0b9-5a105b742e49","optionText":"10%","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"According to the Wall Street Journal, from 1979 to 2012, the FISC rejected 11 of the more than 33,900 government surveillance applications, a rejection rate of 0.03%. "},{"optionId":"defab074-2f3a-4cb0-8e7d-54714af12aa8","optionText":"1%","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"According to the Wall Street Journal, from 1979 to 2012, the FISC rejected 11 of the more than 33,900 government surveillance applications, a rejection rate of 0.03%. "},{"optionId":"cd039cc0-6ed7-41ad-913c-2ad0d43bb7fd","optionText":".1%","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"According to the Wall Street Journal, from 1979 to 2012, the FISC rejected 11 of the more than 33,900 government surveillance applications, a rejection rate of 0.03%. "},{"optionId":"cc8242e4-afb5-4b69-a433-3fa6195e0ec5","optionText":"Less than .1%","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"According to the Wall Street Journal, from 1979 to 2012, the FISC rejected 11 of the more than 33,900 government surveillance applications, a rejection rate of 0.03%. "}],"answerKey":["cc8242e4-afb5-4b69-a433-3fa6195e0ec5"],"createdDate":1432249480686,"lastUpdated":1432250589927,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"},{"questionId":"e1424101-98cf-47f8-aac4-7d21244e3cd2","questionText":"The decisions of the FISA court, like those of the court in The Trial, are secret by default. A few months before the Snowden disclosures, four senators asked the FISA court to declassify summaries of some of those opinions. What did the court’s presiding judge say in response? ","excludeFromTrivia":false,"options":[{"optionId":"bfab1de9-4ad7-476d-b310-ee0bb2159f17","optionText":"Summaries will likely confuse the public.","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Well, sort of -- the correct answer was "all of the above."  "},{"optionId":"fa928c63-4bde-4c81-8745-66a66e3c636a","optionText":"It’s difficult for a judge to summarize the work of another judge.","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Well, sort of -- the correct answer was "all of the above."  "},{"optionId":"21ee6558-0f24-4645-b0d1-af074512ec05","optionText":"The court lacks the resources to write summaries.","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Well, sort of -- the correct answer was "all of the above."  "},{"optionId":"fee8cb1b-437c-40eb-9741-f400e4a2c4be","optionText":"Deleting the secrets in an opinion will leave only “a remnant void of much or any useful meaning.”","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"WRONG","comment":"Well, sort of -- the correct answer was "all of the above."  "},{"optionId":"dad19328-fed6-4b09-bb2a-eacd3f367892","optionText":"All of the above.","hasComment":true,"commentTitle":"CORRECT","comment":"Yup."}],"answerKey":["dad19328-fed6-4b09-bb2a-eacd3f367892"],"createdDate":1432249480688,"lastUpdated":1432250589930,"multipleSelectionAmount":0,"time":"01:00","min":"01","secs":"00"}],"allowDuplicate":false,"results":[]},"apiRoot":"https://quiz.washingtonpost.com/quiz/games/webapi"}
1

Section I. Every court has rules and procedures. Do the following describe proceedings in the FISA court, Kafka’s court, or both?


People who are served with court orders have to keep them secret. 
FISA court
Kafka court
Both

2

Judges hear only one side of the case – the government’s.

FISA court
Kafka court
Both

3

Lawyers are barred from reading secret government filings about their clients.

FISA court
Kafka court
Both

4

Lawyers have to respond to secret government filings – without reading them.

FISA court
Kafka court
Both

5

Section II. The FISA court has been the subject of intense debate in Congress and the federal courts. Which of these are quotes from real government officials discussing the FISA court, and which are direct quotes from The Trial?


“…proceedings are generally kept secret not only from the public but also from the accused.”
FISA court
Kafka court

6

"The public cannot argue that the… opinion should be released until it has seen the opinion, and it cannot see the opinion until it has been released.” 

FISA court
Kafka court

7

“The targets of their proceedings are ordinarily not represented by counsel. Indeed it seems likely that targets are usually unaware of the existence of the proceedings...”

FISA court
Kafka court

8

"The courts don’t make their final conclusions public, not even the judges are allowed to know about them, so that all we know about these earlier cases are just legends.”

FISA court
Kafka court

9

Section III. How about some extra FISA court trivia?

In 2013, a private attorney who argued before the FISA court, Marc Zwillinger, testified about the experience before an independent oversight board. Which of the following is an actual statement from his testimony?
"filing documents with the court... has always been a little bit like trying to get a letter to Santa Claus"
“Where’s my secret decoder ring?”
“Arguing before the court can be fun, if you like debating people while wearing noise-cancelling headphones."
“You asked me if I’ve spoken to a FISA court judge. I don’t know, have I met Keyser Söze?"

10

In The Trial, an expert on that court declares: “I must admit, I never saw a single actual acquittal.” Historically, what percentage of government surveillance applications does the FISA court reject? 

10%
1%
.1%
Less than .1%

11

The decisions of the FISA court, like those of the court in The Trial, are secret by default. A few months before the Snowden disclosures, four senators asked the FISA court to declassify summaries of some of those opinions. What did the court’s presiding judge say in response?

Summaries will likely confuse the public.
It’s difficult for a judge to summarize the work of another judge.
The court lacks the resources to write summaries.
Deleting the secrets in an opinion will leave only “a remnant void of much or any useful meaning.”
All of the above.

Your score: 0 / 11

Alvaro Bedoya is executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law. From 2011 to 2014, he was chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, and to its then-chairman, Senator Al Franken.

Ben Sobel is a researcher and incoming Google Policy Fellow at the Center.