[JURIST] US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [official profile] Monday urged senators [PDF text] to pass long-term legislation to "modernize" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive], contending that a permanently-revised FISA is critical to fighting terrorism. Speaking at a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee [official website] on the status of fighting terrorism six years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive], McConnell said:
The recent enactment of the Protect America Act of 2007 provided a necessary update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This critical legislation has already assisted the Intelligence Community in closing a critical gap in the IC's ability to provide warning of threats to the country. This Act sunsets in less than six months, and I believe that making its changes permanent will be an important step toward ensuring the protection of our Nation. Importantly, the Act provides for meaningful oversight of activities.McConnell also called for a "collaborative intelligence enterprise" among government organizations targeting terrorism and other threats to the US, as well as stronger foreign language initiatives in the workforce.
FISA, which was passed in 1978 to allow the US to monitor Americans' overseas conversations, was revamped last month after the US House of Representatives passed [JURIST report] the Protect America Act 2007 [S 1927 materials], granting the Executive Branch expanded surveillance authority for six months. In the interim, Congress will be considering the passage of permanent changes to FISA. AP has more.