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Unclassified Report On The President's Surveillance Program


Certain activities that were originally authorized as part of the PSP have subsequently been authorized under orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The activities transitioned in this manner included the interception of certain international communications that the President publicly described as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program."

As a result of this transition, the President decided not to reauthorize these activities and the final Presidential Authorization expired on February 1, 2007. The White House stated that work on the transition of authority over a two-year period addressed Administration concerns about preserving the speed and agility that the Terrorist Surveillance Program provided.

The transition of certain PSP-authorized activities to FISC orders is described in detail in Section 5 of the classified report and Chapter Five of the DOJ OIG Report. Further details regarding this transition are classified and therefore cannot be addressed in this unclassified report.

In August 2007, the Protect America Act was enacted, amending FISA to address the government's ability to conduct electronic surveillance in the United States of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. This legislation expired in early 2008, and in July 2008 the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was enacted. This latter law authorized the government to intercept inside the United States any communications of non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, provided a significant purpose of the acquisition pertains to foreign intelligence. This legislation gave the government even broader authority to intercept international communications than did the provisions of the Presidential Authorizations governing the activities that the President acknowledged in December 2005 as the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

The DOJ OIG review concluded that several considerations favored initiating the process of transitioning the PSP to FISA authority earlier than had been done, especially as the program became less a temporary response to the September 11 terrorist attacks and more a permanent surveillance tool. These considerations included the PSP's effect on privacy interests of U.S. persons, the instability of the legal reasoning on which the program rested for several years, and the substantial restrictions placed on FBI agents' access to and use of program-derived information due to the highly classified status of the PSP.

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