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Enacted in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was the response by the congress to counter purported national security threats. The greatest threat to national security is now terrorism, both international and domestic. Although FISA is not a legal tool to for combating domestic terrorism, its physical and electronic search authority is effective and legal methods in the monitoring of foreign agents and powers operating within the US. It has proved a vital tool in thwarting terrorist acts, especially with the modifications from the Patriot Act that has made the surveillance and prosecution of suspects easier by reducing the bureaucracy involved in surveillance and prosecution of suspects. This paper describes and analyzes the primary elements of the USA Patriotic Act and FISA and how the media has interpreted the components of these Acts. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Multi-Point Authority (Roving Wiretap Authority): this is one of the important components of the FISA that has been expanded by the USA Patriot Act in order to bolster internal security. By the “roving wiretap,” security agencies are allowed to intercept communication by a suspected agent without having to specify the particular computer or telephone line or any other communication device to be monitored. The media has often said that the provision gives law enforcement agencies the discretion to conduct surveillance on people indiscriminately, people who have not been approved by the court (Vladeck, 2015). However, that seems far-fetched considering that Section 206 of the Patriot Act did not change the requirements for the approval of electronic surveillance. As Gilbert (2013) outlines, the FISA court has to find a probable cause and also to meet the modern day challenges posed by technological advancement. For example, without section 206, the FBI, among other agencies would have to struggle and possibly fail in arresting a sophisticated terrorist who is trained to change phones routinely so as to avoid surveillance. That would leave the country vulnerable to attacks.

The Wall: initially, any application for the authorization of physical search or electronic surveillance under FISA included a certification from an official, high ranking in the executive that the search or surveillance was meant to gather information on a foreign intelligence. The justice department interpreted that to mean that the core purpose of the collection was to obtain intelligence rather than evidence. This has the effect of limiting information sharing and coordination between law enforcement personnel and intelligence gathering agencies. Section 504 and 218 of the USA Patriot Act has helped in eliminating the bureaucracy that previously separated the law enforcement officials from the intelligence (Smith, 2010). Now there is more information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence personnel. This has had an immense impact on the war on terrorism: terrorists have been caught, terrorist plans have been disrupted and convictions have been possible and fast. For example, intelligence sharing and coordination was essential in the successful disruption and dismantling of a domestic terrorist cell in Portland, Oregon as well as that in Lackawanna in New York. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

The authorized periods for FISA collection: in protecting the American civil liberties and protecting the national security of the country, section 207 of the Patriot Act has reinforced the ability of FISA to be effective as well as save vital intelligence gathering resources (Abele, 2005). The section changed the time period for which physical searches and electronic surveillance are permitted under FISA. This conserves both FBI and OIPR resources. Some media reports have suggested that the period was extended to one year that could be renewed upon application by the government. Media reports have also suggested that the time period for FISA collection for Americans and foreign agents was similar (Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2016). This is not true because the period was extended to 120 days with a possible extension of up to a year while the surveillance of US citizens has remained the same, 90 days. With equivalent time periods, law enforcement departments can now file combined physical and electronic streamlined search applications. This has removed the cumbersome and increased the effectiveness of the intelligence gathering process to secure the nation without infringing on civil liberties of US citizens.

From the discussion above, it is clear that media portrayal and that of the general public perception of these Acts has not been accurate. With its role on agenda setting, the media has often been either misinterpreting information or dwelling on one issue at the expense of the positive contribution that the two Acts are doing in securing the homeland. My prior perception and knowledge about these Acts was not accurate because just like a lot of people, I believed what I was getting from the media by believing that they were experts in the subject. I believe that we are more secure with these two Acts in place as exemplified by the dismantling of the terrorist cells in Oregon and New York. Moreover, the numerous successful convictions of suspects are proof that these Acts have ushered in a new era of safety on American soil.[Cick Essay Writer to order your essay].

Abele, R. P. (2005). A user’s guide to the USA Patriot Act and beyond. Lanham, Md. [u.a.: Univ. Press of America.

Electronic Privacy Information Center. (2016). Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Gilbert, F. (2013). Demystifying the United States Patriot Act. Journal of Internet Law16(8), 3-7.

Smith, C. S., & Hung, L.-C. (2010). The Patriot Act: Issues and controversies. Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

Vladeck, S. (2015, June 1). Forget the Patriot Act – Here Are the Privacy Violations You Should Be Worried About. ForeignPolicy , p. 1.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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