by Ben O’Neill, Mises:
We begin our analysis of the legal machinations of the NSA by looking at the secret court system which supposedly practices judicial oversight over the agency. This Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court or FISC) was created in 1978 as a result of recommendations of the Church Committee, composed after a series of intelligence scandals in the 1970s. The court was purportedly created as an additional safeguard against unlawful activity by US intelligence agencies, which had been found to have committed various kinds of unlawful surveillance activities.
The goal of the FISA court, as originally conceived, was to place judicial oversight on the surveillance activities of the NSA, by requiring the agency to obtain warrants from the court before intercepting communications. This was to place the NSA under the same kind of legal constraints as regular police, with requirements for evidence being put before a court in order to obtain a warrant for search. However, unlike the court system for regular police warrants, the judicial system for the NSA is far more secretive.
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