The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - Its History, Its Purpose, and Its Future


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Course Description

This program was recorded on December 2, 2020

Electronic surveillance represents the most important foreign intelligence collection tool available to the U.S. government. Correspondingly, the ability to secretly surveil constitutes one of those activities most susceptible to abuse by a government against its citizens. In the U.S., the government’s use of electronic surveillance is highly regulated and can be conducted for only two purposes: law enforcement, which is undertaken by both federal and state governments; and foreign intelligence collection, which is the exclusive province of the federal government and conducted within the U.S. pursuant to a single authority - the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or “FISA.”

FISA governs not only domestic electronic surveillance conducted for foreign  intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, but also the targeted surveillance of U.S. persons abroad, as well as the use of physical searches, pen registers, trap and trace devices, and the collection of business records and tangible things to acquire foreign intelligence. It permits surveillance and other intrusive activities in the United States both with, and in limited circumstances, without a court order. It covers virtually every major foreign intelligence or counterintelligence collection effort undertaken in the United States, and constitutes the most important intelligence authority available for use in the war against terror.

Since the 2016 presidential election, FISA has been prominently cited in news reports related to both the Special Counsel (Mueller) investigation and the findings of the DoJ Inspector General contained in his report titled Report of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation released in December 2019. This course will tell you everything you didn’t know about FISA and its origins, as well as what lies ahead for FISA in the aftermath of the multiple investigations stemming from the counterintelligence activities conducted in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Speaker Bio
2 General Credits
Course Agenda

George Croner
George W. Croner, a director of Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., was awarded his B.S. degree (with distinction) from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975, and graduated J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1980 after his selection for participation in the Navy’s law education program. Following law school, Mr. Croner attended the Navy Judge Advocate General’s military justice school in Newport, Rhode Island where he was awarded the ABA Award for Professional Merit for highest academic standing in his class, and the Frederick Shields Award for the highest academic standing of any attorney completing the course of study for the year 1980.

Contact George Croner

2 General Credits

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Course Agenda

  1. Electronic Surveillance for Foreign Intelligence Prior to FISA
  2. Keith and Post-Watergate Developments
  3. The Basic Construct of “Traditional” (Title I) FISA
  4. The Expansion of FISA through the 1990s
  5. Post-9/11 Changes and Amendments to FISA
  6. FISA Section 702 - Targeting Persons Abroad
  7. FISA in the News
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