Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fixing surveillance Fixing surveillance

Heritage Foundation article titled: Fixing surveillance by James Carafano reiterates what I have been saying for a long time: FISA was designed for different technology and to meet a very different threat.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is no longer adequate. Passed in 1978, FISA didn't anticipate the development of global communication networks or advanced technical methods for intelligence gathering. Congress should amend FISA to provide for programmatic approvals of cutting-edge technologies -- including automated monitoring of suspected terrorist communications....

Nevertheless, what is clear is that the existing FISA procedures are themselves inadequate to authorize the use of advanced technical methods against global terrorist threats. The critical question being overlooked in the partisan bickering is whether there's a better way to stay one step ahead of the terrorists as well as protect the liberties of American citizens. There is.

FISA is cumbersome. It requires individual application to a judge for authorization to target a specific individual or source based on showing a connection to a foreign power or foreign terrorist. Although FISA permits applications to be made after the fact in certain cases, it doesn't provide a mechanism for programmatic pre-approval of technical methods like automated data analysis.

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