Center for American Progress

: FISA: Safeguarding Both Security and Freedom
Past Event

FISA: Safeguarding Both Security and Freedom

10:30 AM - 1:30 PM EDT

How can we make sure that America is listening when al Qaeda calls–and that the freedoms of ordinary Americans are preserved? The Center for American Progress will host a two-part event examining the recent amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The first panel will feature prominent bloggers and activists who have led the campaign to rein in the administration’s quest for expansive powers. Find out what tactics and methods they’ve used and what their next steps will be once the surveillance program comes up for reauthorization in six months. This will be followed by a discussion with experts on national security and civil liberties who will explore the problems with the recent legislation and how Congress should address these problems in the coming months.

Panel Discussion: Bloggers and Online Activists

Featured Panelists:
Spencer Ackerman, Reporter/Blogger,
Nita Chaudhary, Political Action
Caroline Fredrickson, Director, Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union
Julian Sanchez, Contributing Editor, Reason magazine

Moderated by:
Faiz Shakir, Research Director, Center for American Progress

Panel Discussion: Restoring Checks and Balances

Featured Panelists:
Mary DeRosa, Chief Counsel for National Security, Senate Judiciary Committee
Former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-OK)
Morton H. Halperin, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Kate Martin, Director, Center for National Security Studies

Moderated by:
Mark Agrast, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Program Agenda:

10:30 A.M. – 11:45 P.M.
Panel Discussion: Bloggers and Online Activists

Bloggers and online activists have been at the forefront of raising awareness about the civil liberties and legal implications relating to the Bush administration’s spying activities.

Citizen journalists and grassroots organizers have challenged the administration’s assertions about the legality of the warrantless wiretapping program. With persistence and shared efforts, these activists have uncovered disturbing examples of administration attempts to mislead and dissemble about its surveillance programs.

Most recently, they have reacted with disdain to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments, and they have been working to inform others about the ramifications of those changes.

11:45 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Light Lunch

12:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.
Panel Discussion: Restoring Checks and Balances

Nearly 30 years ago, Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to strike a balance between the government’s need for foreign intelligence information and the constitutional requirement that Americans not be subject to electronic eavesdropping without a court order. The statute has been amended many times to ensure that our intelligence capabilities keep pace with advances in technology, but for three decades the core requirement that the government must get a warrant to spy on Americans in the United States remained intact. That abruptly changed on August 5, when the president signed legislation which permits the government to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant as long as the “target” of the surveillance is located outside the United States.

This and other sweeping changes to FISA were enacted with virtually no public debate as Congress prepared to leave for the August recess. The legislation is set to expire in six months, and congressional leaders have vowed to reconsider it once Congress reconvenes in September.