On Thursday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an order stating that the government "has not relied on any action taken by [former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker] in any submission to the court." The order, issued by Judge Rosemary Collyer, denied attorney Thomas C. Goldstein's motion to file an amicus curiae brief challenging Whitaker's authority to take action before the court on the basis that his appointment as acting attorney general was unlawful.
First passed in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) still guides the physical and electronic surveillance of foreign powers and agents. Congress has repeatedly amended the law, however, seeking to calibrate the government’s surveillance to accord with the level of threat and seeking to keep authorities current as technology develops at breakneck speed. Nevertheless, even authorized activities affirmatively permitted by statute have come under fire as a torrent of leaks have revealed government surveillance programs under the statute.