Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Set to Expire February 28, 2010
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Three amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA are set to expire sunset on February 28, 2010. S. 1692, a bill reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute, would extend the sunset date by four years and make various modifications to existing authorities. H.R. 3845 would likewise establish a new sunset of December 31, 2013, but it would reauthorize only two of the three expiring provisions. The three sunsetting amendments expanded the scope of federal intelligence-gathering authority following the 911 terrorist attacks. Two were enacted as part of the USA PATRIOT Act. Section 206 of the USA PATRIOT Act amended FISA to permit multipoint, or roving, wiretaps by adding flexibility to the degree of specificity with which the location or facility subject to electronic surveillance under FISA must be identified. Section 215 enlarged the scope of materials that could be sought under FISA to include any tangible thing. It also lowered the standard required before a court order may be issued to compel their production. The third amendment was enacted in 2004, as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act IRTPA. Section 6001a of the IRTPA changed the rules regarding the types of individuals who may be targets of FISA-authorized searches. Also known as the lone wolf provision, it permits surveillance of non-U.S. persons engaged in international terrorism without requiring evidence linking those persons to an identifiable foreign power or terrorist organization. Although these provisions are set to sunset, grandfather clauses permit them to remain effective with respect to investigations that began, or potential offenses that took place, before the sunset date.
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