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NCJ Number: 200902 Find in a Library
Title: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: Before and After the USA PATRIOT Act
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:72  Issue:6  Dated:June 2003  Pages:25-32
Author(s): Michael J. Bulzomi J.D.
Date Published: June 2003
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: HTML
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews the consequences of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 on the Foreign Intelligence Act of 1978 (FISA).
Abstract: Although it is important to protect Americans and American interests in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many Americans fear their civil rights will be lost in the race for safety. In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government does not have unlimited power to authorize electronic surveillance for domestic security matters without first obtaining a formal court order. However, recognizing that the use of wiretaps and other electronic surveillance techniques may be necessary for national security reasons, the Court directed Congress to decide if the authorization for, and rules governing, the use of national security wiretaps should be same as those governing criminal wiretaps. Congress reviewed the issue and passed FISA in 1978, which established a requirement of judicial approval for the use of electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence gathering. The Act also established the FISA Court, consisting of U.S. District judges, whose purpose is to review government applications for national security electronic monitoring and searches. The author then compares FISA to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, asserting that both Acts require a showing of probable cause to use electronic monitoring techniques. However, it is more difficult to show probable cause in cases involving criminal prosecution (covered under the Omnibus Act of 1968) than it is in cases involving a suspected threat to national security (covered under FISA). In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Congress reassessed its intelligence-gathering procedures and subsequently passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. The Act changed the way foreign intelligence gathering is conducted, allowing intelligence officials to work with law enforcement officials to investigate possible threats to national security. Thus, the wall that had once been erected between intelligence gathering and criminal investigation had been broken down, allowing criminal investigations to overlap with intelligence gathering. The author concludes that although it has now become easier to protect the Nation, care must be taken to ensure any actions against terrorism are employed within the constraints of the Constitution.
Main Term(s): Civil rights; Counter-terrorism intelligence
Index Term(s): Antiterrorist laws; Counter-terrorism tactics; Federal legislation; Terrorism prosecution
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