As NSA surveillance secrets make a a big splash in the headlines, you may have heard the terms “FISA” and “secret court,” but even as an attorney, don’t know much about them. Here’s a little more history on the most secretive court in America.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) regulates the government’s conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. In essence, it requires the government to obtain a warrant before being able to conduct surveillance on “agents of a foreign power” engaged in espionage or terrorism.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is the gatekeeper. By ruling yea or nay on warrant applications, it is supposed to ensure sure the government doesn’t abuse its surveillance powers.