FISA: Reform

Brennan Center Report on "What Went Wrong with the FISA Court"

By Wells Bennett
Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 3:15 PM

The civil liberties group's report was released today. It was authored by Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel (who has contributed pieces to Lawfare), and has a foreword by retired U.S. District Judge James Robertson---a former member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Here are the report's key recommendations:

  • Congress should end programmatic surveillance and require the government to obtain judicial approval whenever it seeks to obtain communications or information involving Americans. This would resolve many constitutional concerns.
  • Congress should shore up the Article III soundness of the FISA Court by ensuring that the interests of those affected by surveillance are represented in court proceedings, increasing transparency, and facilitating the ability of affected individuals to challenge surveillance programs in regular federal courts.
  • Finally, Congress should address additional Fourth Amendment concerns by ensuring that the collection of information under the rubric of “foreign intelligence” actually relates to our national security and does not constitute an end-run around the constitutional standards for criminal investigations.