Report: Surveillance Court Has ‘Foundational Legal Weaknesses’


The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court no longer functions as it was intended when it was formed in 1979, according to a new report from the Brennan Center at New York University School of Law.

The court was created under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to oversee federal requests for surveillance warrants for individuals on American soil suspected of being foreign agents.

“Today, the court's activities resemble neither the granting of warrants nor the ordinary adversarial process for reviewing a challenge to the constitutionality of an agency's program,” researchers write in the report. “Instead, the court provides a veneer of judicial oversight for surveillance activities, blessing mammoth covert programs without hearing from those affected by them.”

The report details the court's evolution from overseeing individualized surveillance to now approving requests for mass data collection, “blessing mammoth covert programs without hearing from those affected by them,” a function the report's authors conclude may violate the Fourth Amendment and Article III of the Constitution.

The researchers call for Congressional action to “tackle the foundational legal weaknesses of the FISA Court to bring it back into line with its constitutional role of providing a strong judicial check on executive branch surveillance.”

Read the full report HERE.

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