The Pros and Cons of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

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Today, electronic surveillance remains one of the most effective tools the United States has to protect against foreign powers and groups seeking to inflict harm on the nation, but it does not go without a few possessing a few negative aspects either. Electronic surveillance of foreign intelligence has likely saved the lives of many innocent people through prevention of potential acts of aggression towards the United States. There are many pros to the actions authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) pertaining to electronic surveillance, but there are also cons. Looking at both the pros and cons of electronic surveillance is important in understanding the overall effectiveness of FISA. [1]
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Another pro of FISA, and the applicable amendments that followed, is the ability for electronic surveillance to be conducted without a court order for a designated length of time to better facilitate collection and streamline the process under USC. 1802, Sec 102. There are, of course, steps required by high ranking officials, the President and Attorney General, which must be taken to conduct such surveillance without a court order. Also, the criteria to conduct the surveillance is restricted specifically to communications exclusively between foreign powers and must not include “substantial likelihood” that the surveillance will acquire communications pertaining to a United States Person. [4] While the appropriate legal process should always be followed, this provision is necessary at times to bypass the lengthy legal process for obtaining a court order when time restrictions apply.
The Cons of FISA Authorized Electronic Surveillance. FISA provides many other pros to the IC pertaining to electronic surveillance as well, but it also brings with it multiple disadvantages. One of the biggest cons is what the founders of the Act were trying so hard to avoid, the lack of balance. Many people believe that the balance between the protection electronic surveillance provides and the infringement on civil

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