This News Alert was released at a forum on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance in New York, May 7, 2007, in connection with the Program on Law Enforcement and National Security in the Information Age (PLENSIA), a Global Information Society Project (GISP) at the World Policy Institute (WPI).

New Authority to Oversight Foreign Intelligence Needed, says Center for Advanced Studies


NEW YORK, May 7, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy urges that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) be updated to enable necessary foreign intelligence activities while still protecting privacy and civil liberties.

“FISA currently is inadequate to authorize needed foreign intelligence activity and to protect privacy and civil liberties,” said K. A. (Kim) Taipale, executive director of the Center for Advanced Studies, in written testimony submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week.

Taipale argues that the current public debate over amending FISA fails to explicitly recognize the different requirements for reactive law enforcement-derived policies governing the use of targeted “wiretaps” to monitor communications of known persons in the United States on the one hand, and foreign intelligence activities directed at monitoring foreign channels or targets, including their international communications to and from the United States, to identify and preempt unknown threats on the other.

The Administration has submitted legislation to exclude from FISA all foreign intelligence activity not targeted at persons in the United States. “While the Administration’s proposal is wholly consistent with the original intent of FISA, we are concerned that certain of these foreign-directed activities impact the same domestic privacy and civil liberties interests that FISA was intended to address,” wrote Taipale in his testimony.

However, simply force-fitting existing FISA warrant procedures to any foreign intelligence activities that may affect U.S. persons as some critics of the Administration’s proposals have suggested is simply unworkable, is not constitutionally required, and would severely frustrate the ability to gather foreign intelligence information vital to the national security and interests of the United States, writes Taipale. Instead, he urges Congress to consider enacting an explicit procedure for programmatic approval, oversight, and review of certain foreign intelligence activity or programs where such activity is likely to have substantial impact on domestic privacy or civil liberties interests.

Testimony available at


The Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy -- -- is an independent, non-partisan research organization focused on information, technology, and national security policy.  Kim Taipale is the founder and executive director of the Center.  He is also a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, a member of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age, and an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School.



All material on this page is copyright the Center for Advanced Studies or the editors or publisher referred to above © 2003-2007. Permission is granted to reproduce this document in whole or in part for non-commercial purposes, provided it is with proper citation and attribution.