Admin Presses for Renewal of FISA Surveillance Authority

05.03.12 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Obama Administration is urging Congress to renew provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act that are set to expire at the end of this year.

“Reauthorizing this authority is the top legislative priority of the Intelligence Community,” wrote Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder in a February 8 letter to Congress.

One of the key provisions, they explained, would permit the electronic surveillance of entire categories of non-U.S. persons who are located abroad “without the need for a court order for each individual target.”

Under this provision, “instead of issuing individual court orders, the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] approves annual certifications submitted by the Attorney General and the DNI that identify categories of foreign intelligence targets.”

“The provision contains a number of important protections for U.S. persons and others in the United States,” according to a background paper attached to the February 8 letter, including limitations on targeting, minimization procedures to exclude information about U.S. persons, and other guidelines on acquisition.

“Failure to reauthorize [this section] would result in a loss of significant intelligence and impede the ability of the Intelligence Community to respond quickly to new threats and intelligence opportunities,” the background paper stated.

Proposed legislative language to enact an extension of Title VII of the FISA Amendments Act was transmitted to Congress by the DNI in a March 26 letter.

The American Civil Liberties Union disputes the adequacy of the FISA Amendment Act’s protections for U.S. persons and is challenging the constitutionality of the Act in a lawsuit that is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The ACLU is also asking Congress to “Fix FISA by prohibiting dragnet surveillance, mandating more transparency about the government’s surveillance activities, and strengthening safeguards for privacy.”

See all publications
Nuclear Weapons
New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship: Creative Perspectives on Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence 

To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.

11.28.23 | 3 min read
read more
Science Policy
Expected Utility Forecasting for Science Funding

Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.

11.20.23 | 11 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Notebook: Nuclear Weapons Sharing, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

11.17.23 | 1 min read
read more
Social Innovation
Community School Approach Reaches High of 60%, Reports Latest Pulse Panel

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.

11.17.23 | 4 min read
read more