Amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

01.24.08 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Senate Intelligence Committee proposal to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is under consideration on the Senate floor today, “does not contain adequate protections to guard against the kind of Executive abuse that occurred with the [Terrorist Surveillance Program] and related programs,” according to a new Senate Judiciary Committee report.

“Congress is prepared to grant the Administration the authority it needs to surveil targets overseas. But the unilateral decision by the Executive in the years following 9/11 to surveil Americans’ communications contrary to FISA illustrates the need for Congress to provide clear statutory protections for surveillance that impacts Americans’ privacy rights.”

“Additional protections are of critical importance,” the Senate Judiciary Committee report said. “The rules governing electronic surveillance affect every American and remain the only buffer between the freedom of Americans to make private communications and the ability of the Government to listen in on those communications.”

“In the Committee’s view, the improvements contained in the Senate Intelligence bill do not go far enough in ensuring that Americans’ privacy rights are safeguarded. Additional protections can be added without interfering with the flexibility the Government needs to conduct overseas surveillance.”

See “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2007,” Senate Judiciary Committee, January 22.