Measures and efforts are of paramount significance as al Qaeda’s leaders have repeatedly pledged to attack the United States at a time it chooses.
The 2001 USA Patriot Act gives the President and federal government broad authority to go after the terrorists, to intercept their communications and stop their plots. The provisions of the USA Patriot Act deal with expanded federal authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).1 In 2002 a key court decision dismantled the legal wall (U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft is credited with breaking the wall erected by former Attorney General Janet Reno in the mid-1990s) separating the FBI’s criminal and intelligence probes, thus making the sharing of information easier. it also contributed to an increase in FISA
On July 21, 2005, both House and Senate approved proposals to reauthorize sections of the USA Patriot Act due to expire at the end of 2005. They made permanent, without amendment, several expiring sections of the Act. However, the two sections’ expiration was postponed. These deal with FISA roving wiretaps and the business records library.3
There is an ongoing debate over renewal of these two sections in view of President Bush’s controversial assertion that he has Constitutional and Congressional authority to conduct surveillance of communications of U.S. citizens within the U.S.
In response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct warrantless surveillance on international communications into or out of the U.S. of persons linked to al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization. The purpose of this move was to ensure that the U.S. has in place an early warning system to detect and prevent another catastrophic attack on it.