April 17, 2024

Will a FISA lapse cause a disaster? It depends on who you ask

Source: The Hill

Journalist: Rebecca Beitsch

“If the government has obtained renewal of the certifications, even if the law is not reauthorized this month, those certifications remain in effect over the course of the year,” said Carrie Cordero, a former attorney with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who has advocated for reauthorizing FISA 702.

“The government should be able to add new targets, but there’s some element of uncertainty that potentially that could be challenged, and it’s not good from a national security perspective to have any ambiguity about the legal authority that’s in place,” she said.

The government has asserted those concerns are not just theoretical.


“The fact that it’s going to have to litigate is hardly a reason to rush to enact legislation” without taking the time to consider more stringent reforms, she added.

But Cordero warned a long-term lapse that stretched beyond the court’s April 2025 certification, while not stopping surveillance, would limit its oversight. In effect, opponents of the program would see a worse situation.

“The long-term scenario of not reauthorizing 702, whether it’s under this administration, or an unknown future administration, would be that a president would be forced to rely on constitutional authority. And there wouldn’t be a legal framework anymore with all of these procedures and process and court supervision. It instead would be executive branch prerogatives,” she said.

“And I don’t think that that’s the world that the civil libertarians who are concerned about surveillance really want to live in

Read the full story and more from The Hill.


  • Carrie Cordero

    Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow

    Carrie Cordero is the Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow and General Counsel at CNAS. Her research and writing interests focus on homeland security and intelligence community overs...