Summary and Background
Last summer, the Bush Administration came to Congress seeking emergency changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to address a gap that had arisen in our intelligence collection capabilities, according to administration officials. Democrats support giving the Intelligence Community the tools it needs to protect the nation from terrorism. However, many Democrats opposed the rushed legislation that ultimately resulted from the Administration’s push, the Protect America Act of 2007 (PAA). Before passage, Democrats succeeded in adding a six-month sunset to ensure the PAA would serve as only a temporary measure to address the intelligence gap while Congress considered longer-term amendments to the statute.
Over the past year, Senate and House Democrats have worked with their Republican counterparts, the Administration, the intelligence community, and privacy advocates to develop proposals for amendments to FISA that would give the intelligence community the flexibility it needs to safeguard our nation, while also providing strong protections for civil liberties.
On June 19, Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), announced that a FISA amendments deal had been reached. On June 25, the Senate voted to proceed with consideration of that legislation, H.R.6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
The bill would: