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Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto on New York Times Story on FISA Legislation

The White House issued the following statement Monday in response to a New York Times story about updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that President Bush signed into law this weekend:

From The White House:

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 6, 2007

STATEMENT BY DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY TONY FRATTO

Today’s New York Times story by James Risen makes the unfounded claim that new FISA legislation has “broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages American citizens without warrants.” This is highly misleading.

Revolutionary changes in technology have occurred since FISA was enacted in 1978, and those changes have resulted in FISA — contrary to the intent of Congress in 1978 — often requiring the government to get a court order to collect information on foreign terrorists and other foreign targets located overseas. The new law makes clear that a court order is not required to conduct surveillance of foreign intelligence targets located overseas.

But under FISA, court approval is required for the government to target an individual located in the United States, and nothing in the new law changes that.

Congress has recognized there does not have to be a trade off between the goals of protecting Americans’ rights and keeping our Nation safe. The Protect America Act accomplishes both goals.

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