CRS on “The Protect America Act”

The controversial amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that were enacted under intense Administration pressure earlier this month are reviewed section-by-section in a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

The legislation, dubbed the “Protect America Act of 2007,” removed legal impediments to the interception of foreign communications that pass through the United States. But it also redefined the terms of the FISA so as to permit increased surveillance of communications involving persons in the United States while curtailing judicial supervision.

The new CRS report offers a careful reading of each provision of the Act.

But instead of fully clarifying its impact, the report serves to highlight just how unclear and indeterminate the new law actually is.

Thus, one provision “could conceivably be interpreted” to apply to parties within the United States. Another provision “might be seen to be susceptible of two possible interpretations.” Still others “appear to” or “would seem to” or “may also” have one uncertain consequence or another.

In other words, the new law bears the hallmarks of its hasty, poorly considered origins.

The new CRS report may help to identify some of the questions that Congress will examine when it revisits the legislation next month.

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “P.L. 110-55, the Protect America Act of 2007: Modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” August 23, 2007.

No Responses to “CRS on “The Protect America Act””

  1. PW August 29, 2007 at 5:32 PM #

    Thanks once again, Steve. The carelessness recently associated with really important legislation is pretty shocking. Poorly written bills (sometimes deliberately), bills not read before being voted on (ditto)= crummy attitudes towards democracy.

  2. Greg August 29, 2007 at 9:10 PM #

    Hasty, poorly considered?

    I tend to believe that it would be more accurate to say that it was very carefully crafted, so that the administration can claim whatever they want, when they get criticized about their excesses. Politicians thrive on ambiguity, but this administration, and the people behind it, have taken it to new extremes in order to justify a wholesale crackdown on just about any perceived threat to their vision of an America that not only dominates the world, but has to tools to keep its citizenry in line.

  3. DigitalCommando September 11, 2007 at 11:32 AM #

    Kinda makes you wonder if the “decider” is actually writing these himself, continuing his legacy as the supreme commangler of the english language. The time has come where we must begin to strip any president from having the power or ability to violate the constitution, or suspend any portion of it, even during times of war. Not one boot should step upon a foreign soil without the full approval of all three parties, senate, congress & president. Any ONE of the three could stop a war, but all three must start it. It’s time to bring king george back to earth, and prevent another one of him ever appearing again. A wise man said “Man will know no freedom until the last king is strangled, with the entrails of the last priest.”