A FISA Primer: The Rules for Foreign Intelligence Electronic Surveillance

Credits in

General Icons 1.00 General

Practice Areas:

Government Law

Icon About This Course

Electronic surveillance represents the most important foreign intelligence collection tool available to the U.S. government. Correspondingly, the ability to surveil constitutes one of those activities most susceptible to abuse by a government against its citizens. In the U.S., the government’s use of electronic surveillance is highly regulated and can be conducted for only two purposes: law enforcement, which is undertaken by both federal and state governments; and foreign intelligence collection, which is an exclusively federal government function conducted pursuant to a single authority - the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or “FISA.” 

FISA governs not only electronic surveillance but the use of physical searches, pen registers, trap and trace devices, and business records collection to acquire foreign intelligence. It permits surveillance and other intrusive activities in the United States both with, and in limited circumstances, without a warrant. It covers virtually every major intelligence collection effort used by the United States, and constitutes the most important intelligence authority available in the war against terror.


This course will tell you everything you didn’t know about FISA, and may change your mind about some things you thought you did know about this crucial statute.

About the Presenters

George W. Croner, Esq.

Foreign Policy Research Institute

Practice Area: Government Law

George W. Croner, a Senior Fellow at FPRI, is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (with distinction) and a 1980 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (with honors). From 1984 through 1988, while holding the highest security clearance authorized by the U.S. government (TS/SCI), Mr. Croner served in the Operations Division of the Office of General Counsel at the National Security Agency (NSA) which had legal oversight responsibility for NSA’s signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations, including compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). During this same period, Mr. Croner also was NSA’s principal litigation counsel and, in ...

View Details