Exploring HeinOnline: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978

Coming Soon to the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library

Enacted on October 25, 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) established procedures for physical and electronic surveillance of "foreign intelligence information" between foreign powers and agents of foreign powers.  Agents of foreign powers includes American citizens and permanent residents suspected of being engaged in espionage and violating U.S. law on territory under United States control.  FISA resulted from extensive investigations by Senate Committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. 
Led separately by Sam Ervin and Frank Church in 1978, these investigations started in response to President Richard Nixon's use of federal resources to spy on political and activist groups, a clear breach of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  FISA would allow Judicial and congressional oversight of the government's covert surveillance activities of foreign entities in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy necessary to protect the United States' national security.  Since it's enactment in 1978, FISA has been amended by the USA Patriot Act in 2001 and the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006, overhauled by the Protect America Act of 2007, and amended again by The FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

This title will be available with the December content release.

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