Back to News & Commentary

The Real Truth About FISA

Share This Page
September 18, 2007

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has been talking a lot lately, spinning tales about how much more spy power is needed to protect America. Last week he told the Senate Intelligence Committee that newly available powers from the Protect America Act enabled intelligence to apprehend the terrorism suspects in Germany last week.

But then he retracted that statement, admitting that intelligence gathered on the German suspects was collected under the old FISA law. Oops.

This week, he testifies before Congress in two hearings: today in front of the House Judiciary Committee, and on Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee. But before McConnell digs himself into more holes – it seems the man will say anything to expand spying powers on Americans – Michelle Richardson, ACLU legislative consultant, penned an article for HuffPost that debunks the myths he’s told so far. As she explains how the Protect America Act doesn’t require a warrant to spy on Americans, she points out:

The government only needs a warrant if it is intentionally targeting a specific U.S. individual. It can, however, conduct mass un-targeted surveillance of all communications coming into or out of the U.S. In other words, the Fourth Amendment has been turned on its head and suspected terrorists will have more protections than innocent Americans.

You can learn more about what the ACLU is doing to fight the expansion of FISA and roll back the powers of the Protect America Act at

Learn More About the Issues on This Page