WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., praised the Senate’s passage of legislation to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as FISA, so that our nation can take advantage of the latest communication technologies in protecting our country.
“The intelligence gathered through foreign intelligence surveillance saves American lives,” Isakson said. “The absence of any catastrophic attacks in America since Sept. 11, 2001, is the product of hard work by Americans in intelligence, law enforcement and the military.”
The bipartisan legislation makes needed changes to FISA so the government’s counter-terrorism intelligence-gathering can continue. It reiterates that FISA constitutes the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance and surveillance of domestic communications may be conducted.
Additionally, the legislation includes retroactive immunity for private telecommunications carriers who have assisted the United States in conducting intelligence surveillance post-9/11 if there was “substantial evidence” they received written assurances that the program was legal and authorized by the president.
“The assistance of private telecommunications carriers is essential to carrying out the intelligence-gathering contemplated in FISA,” Isakson said. “Those who assist the government in tracking terrorists should not be punished with lawsuits.”
The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 69 to 28. The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature.