Latest in FISA: Reform


Legislative Staff Memo on USA Freedom Act Amendments

There may still be a few Lawfare readers who are not so disgusted with their legislature—and their legislators—that they are still following the Senate’s ongoing machinations over the USA Freedom Act. For those who can still contemplate the subject without nausea, here’s the state of play in a nutshell. The sunsetting provisions of the Patriot Act lapsed last night. But the Senate apparently is moving forward after-the-fact on a bill that is substantially similar—with a few differences—from the bill it could not move either six months ago or a week ago.


Why the Current Section 215 Reform Debate Doesn't Matter Much

The ACLU's Chris Soghoian explains (time 25:52-30:55) why the current debate over Section 215 of the Patriot Act is just a minor facet of a large and complex bulk collection program by the FBI and the NSA.

There were 180 orders authorized last year by the FISA Court under Section 215 -- 180 orders issued by this court. Only five of those orders relate to the telephony metadata program. There are 175 orders about completely separate things.


With Friends Like These

Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell – both Republican Senators from Kentucky – despise the USA Freedom Act for different reasons. As readers know, the Freedom Act ends bulk collection while giving the NSA the ability quickly to query metadata held by telecommunications providers under a narrow and specific court-supervised standard.


DOJ's Inspector General Releases New Review of FBI Use of Section 215 Orders

The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice has released a new unclassified report reviewing the FBI's use of Section 215 orders from 2007 through 2009.

Specifically, the review examines the progress of the Department and the FBI in addressing the three recommendations in the OIG's March 2008 report: that the Department implement minimization procedures for the handling of non-publicly available information concerning U.S.

FISA: Reform

PCLOB's Rachel Brand on Section 215

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board's Rachel Brand penned an opinion piece in today's Christian Science Monitor.  It opens:

The heated debate in Congress about whether to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act has focused mainly on the National Security Agency's bulk collection of telephone records ever since details of that program were leaked to the p

FISA: Reform

NSA Spying Will Begin Winding Down This Week: Justice Department Memo

Dustin Volz of the National Journal has obtained a memo from the Department of Justice circulated among congressional offices today that says the NSA will need to begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata collection program authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act by Friday, May 22nd.

The memo makes clear that the NSA collection program cannot stop at the flip of a switch, and while the NSA will "attempt to ensure that any shutdown of the prog

FISA: 215 Collection

A Sunset of Section 215 Is Increasingly Likely - And May Prompt Overhaul

Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, recently made comments to press suggesting that he believed the sunset for Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act will occur sometime during June 1, 2015, and that this was no big deal. Senator Burr told MSNBC:

Everybody needs to realize that this act expires on June 1st, the House is back in session on June 1st, so it’s not like they’re going to jam us on Thursday, leave town and make us believe that we can’t s

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