Ongoing Case Could Expose Surveillance Courts Secrets



A current legal action, based on one senator's comments, could reveal specifics about a case where the National Security Agency may have violated the Fourth Amendment while conducting surveillance on Americans.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, rules in secret on requests from the NSA to access the private information of American citizens, or information hosted on U.S.-based computer systems.

Those requests became part of a media firestorm last week, when two media outlets published leaked documents that showed the federal government was actively monitoring phone calls and computer records of many Americans.

In the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government doesn't need to establish probable cause to get a warrant or court order, and it has a lower burden of proof than usually required by the Fourth Amendment.