The Corner

FISA Reform Passed the Senate

Washington, D.C. – On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed (60-28) the McConnell-Bond bill to modernize existing laws related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The McConnell-Bond legislation was based on a request submitted by the Director of National Intelligence to Congress in April, to clarify laws concerning the monitoring of terrorists on foreign soil. 

“By passing a FISA modernization bill that the President can sign before we go home for recess, the Senate has taken immediate and decisive action to improve the security of our country,” said McConnell.  “The DNI requested Congressional action on this in April because it is an issue of homeland security.  I trust the House will not adjourn before passing this critical legislation on to the President for his signature.  This is not about politics; it is about ensuring that we give our security officials the tools they need to help protect our country from future terrorist attacks.”

The Director of National Intelligence sent a letter on Friday, July 27th, to Congressional leaders requesting Congressional action to fix gaps in FISA before the August recess.  Director Michael McConnell’s request “would make clear that court orders are not necessary to effectively collect foreign intelligence about foreign targets overseas.” 

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) said, “In a time of a heightened threat, the Senate did the right thing and acted to give our law enforcement the tools they need to combat terrorism.  It is now up to the House to act. It is critical to our national security – to keep our country safe – that we update this 30-year old law before we leave for August recess.”

The McConnell-Bond legislation requires the Administration, within 120 days of enactment, to submit a description to the FISA Court of the procedures it will use to determine whether intelligence acquisition being conducted without advance court approval is strictly directed at foreign targets overseas.  The FISA Court will review the procedures and order changes, if necessary.  Decisions of the Court are open to appeal by the Administration. 

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