from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 88
August 29, 2007

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The controversial amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that were enacted under intense Administration pressure earlier this month are reviewed section-by-section in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

The legislation, dubbed the "Protect America Act of 2007," removed legal impediments to the interception of foreign communications that pass through the United States. But it also redefined the terms of the FISA so as to permit increased surveillance of communications involving persons in the United States while curtailing judicial supervision.

The new CRS report offers a careful reading of each provision of the Act.

But instead of fully clarifying its impact, the report serves to highlight just how unclear and indeterminate the new law actually is.

Thus, one provision "could conceivably be interpreted" to apply to parties within the United States. Another provision "might be seen to be susceptible of two possible interpretations." Still others "appear to" or "would seem to" or "may also" have one uncertain consequence or another.

In other words, the new law bears the hallmarks of its hasty, poorly considered origins.

The new CRS report may help to identify some of the questions that Congress will examine when it revisits the legislation next month.

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "P.L. 110-55, the Protect America Act of 2007: Modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," August 23, 2007:


Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service on transportation security and related issues include the following.

"Highway Bridges: Conditions and the Federal/State Role," August 10, 2007:

"Federal Railroad Safety Programs: Selected Issues in Proposed Reauthorization Legislation," August 10, 2007:

"Transportation Security: Issues for the 110th Congress," updated August 3, 2007:


Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include these.

"Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Transformational Diplomacy," August 23, 2007:

"U.S. Foreign Aid to East and South Asia: Selected Recipients," updated August 22, 2007:

"The Role of National Oil Companies in the International Oil Market," August 21, 2007:

"The War Crimes Act: Current Issues," updated July 23, 2007:

"Manipulating Molecules: Federal Support for Nanotechnology Research," updated August 2, 2007:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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