Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: A Brief Overview of Selected Issues [Updated February 8, 2008] [open pdf - 134KB]
"The current legislative and oversight activity with respect to electronic surveillance under FISA has drawn national attention to several overarching issues. This report briefly outlines three such issues and touches upon some of the perspectives reflected in the ongoing debate. These issues include the inherent and often dynamic tension between national security and civil liberties, particularly rights of privacy and free speech; the need identified by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Admiral Mike McConnell, for the Intelligence Community to be able to efficiently and effectively collect foreign intelligence information from the communications of foreign persons located outside the United States in a changing, fast paced, and technologically sophisticated international environment, and the differing approaches suggested to meet this need; and limitations of liability for those electronic communication service providers who furnish aid to the federal government in its foreign intelligence collection. Two constitutional provisions, in particular, are implicated in this debate - the Fourth and First Amendments."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34279