Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Analysis


Every life aspect should be a subject of limits and boundaries. This statement despite sounding emotional should be understood that the only thing that prevents society from turning into chaos is the establishment of certain rules that should be followed. The reasonability of a certain rule is another subject, where the circumstances can enforce making changes in a way that does not violate vital rights such as freedom, privacy, equality, etc.

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The point is that when a certain rule does not fit in a particular period, the administration or any other policy institution should make “appropriate changes”, rather than violate the existing laws. In that sense, following the expression “the end justifies the means”, it should be added that “the means” destroy the values that the end should promote.

In the context of the aforementioned this part of the paper analyses the violations of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) by the Bush administration, providing a study with this issue to show that the Bush administration violated the law not following FISA.

The subject of the Study

Even though the issue presented in the introduction discusses violations of certain constitutional aspects, the subject of study will not approach the legality in terms of analyzing the laws. As a personal opinion, a decision of whether a law is violated or not can be answered simply.

However, in the case of FISA, a shallow answer will not cover the controversy that surrounds this matter, in a sense that it does not approach the conditions in which the aforementioned violations took place.

In that sense, the public opinion as a direct subject of influence is more appropriate to study as a form of a question “did the procedures taken by Bush administration bypassing the FISA are considered violations of law”. Thus, the subject of the study is the average population, the main characteristic of which is being US persons over the age of 21.

The choice of such selection is that being a US person whether a citizen or a lawfully admitted permanent resident alien means a legal status for residing in the US.

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Additionally, the age selection is meant to prove that he/she is no longer under direct guardianship, thus understanding the rights regarding privacy violations.

The subject of the study will be tested on the opinion that “A President who refuses repeatedly to obey a law written explicitly to prevent unilateral invocation of national-security wiretapping, and thereby seriously invades the privacy of Americans, commits an impeachable offense.”(Holtzman 2008, 8)


The study design in this paper will address various procedures made by the Bush administration related to FISA and the people’s response to these procedures as violations. The framework for this study is quantitative and experimental in establishing a scientific approach assuming that there is a specific and fixed reality that should be studied.

The variables that will be researched in this study include Bush administration behavior regarding FISA issues and the perception of people toward such behavior. Accordingly, the variable and independent variable that will be manipulated will be Bush administration behavior regarding FISA issues, and the variable dependant variable that will be affected will be the perception of people toward such behavior.

The survey includes several actions made by the administration such as warrantless domestic surveillance (Johnsen 2008, 10), implementing the TSP program, and keeping it a secret (Anderson 2007, 13) and the way these actions could be used against US citizens.

Accordingly, the participants will be prompted to grade those actions on the scale from acceptable and constitutional to a violation. Several questions in the survey were made merely to identify the sample group containing such information as age, education, and gender.

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Additionally, several questions were constructed out of the survey’s framework, merely to find the general opinion regarding such issues as liberty and privacy.

A descriptive survey of thirty questions was written, where the school setting was chosen as the main setting for the experiment. However, due to the majority not meeting the population requirements, it was decided to make a personal interview at the exit of a local mall. This was chosen due to the ability to find the target population, and at the same time to emphasize that all the questions will be answered properly.


About a hundred surveys were collected and analyzed using Microsoft Excel 2003. The dependant variable measures were given ratings starting from zero which is constitutional to five which is a violation of the law.

Depending on the result various categories were constructed grouping several identical answers. As an example answers with the highest ratings were summed together forming a particular indicator of the following types:

  • Actions that are considered violations by all or most of the respondents.
  • Characteristics of the group that considered most of the actions violations.
  • Actions that are considered constitutional.
  • Characteristics of the group that considered the actions constitutional.
  • Actions with the most dispersion.

In other words, the aforementioned procedure is an attempt to establish uniformity in the answers to make certain conclusions.

Data Analysis

The typical respondent profile is a white female aged between forty and forty-nine. About eighty percent of the respondent have high education and are interested in the issue of violations. Seventy-five percent of the respondent did not know about implementing the TSP program and did not read the corresponding article, although they considered it a violation.

Most of the actions presented in the survey, about ninety-five percent, were considered violations of the law. All the respondents considered the issue of privacy vital to them, and a matter of great concern.

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It could be seen that this research is important in terms that most of the opinions based in the literature review are either controversial or debatable, where scholars stated merely opinions.

The subject of legality was debatable because many reviewers stated that the 9/11 attack put different priorities on the administration and accordingly to people’s main concerns.

The literature, however, did not provide the public opinion by which it could judge the general perception of such actions especially eight years later. From the data results, it is evident that most of the sample considers the actions of the Bush administration regarding FISA a violation of the law.

Speaking of the reliability of such study it should be noted that unless the research will be conducted in the period of high alertness, the high rating of answers that consider the acts of the administration a violation imply that people will put liberty and privacy on the top of their priorities, thus making the study reliable.

On the other hand, in case of validity, the small sample of the population and the difficulty to analyze a large quantity of printed material put this validity in doubt, and at the same time a future consideration to implement the same test electronically with a larger sample. In that case, the explanatory work on some subjects that are not understandable by the public should be explained in written form rather orally, as in the case explained in “Legislating the Fourth Amendment: Can Congressional Legislation Make the Unconstitutional Legal?” by Kimberly Burdge where “people will not perceive the threat until their rights have been severely infringed upon” or saying that “I” am not violating the law, so it does not matter who is wiretapped.” Cases can occur as a form of ignorance rather than full understanding. Thus, in general, the research provided the predicted result with options to conduct a similar study on a larger sample.

Works Cited

  1. Anderson, Austin. 2007. “National Security Surveillance and National Authentication System: The Terrorist Surveillance Program: Assessing the Legality of the Unknown“ A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society 3.
  2. Burdge, Kimberly A. “Legislating the Fourth Amendment: Can Congressional Legislation Make the Unconstitutional Legal?” Howard Law Journal 50.
  3. Holtzman, Elizabeth. 2008. “The Uses and Abuses of Executive Power” University of Miami Law Review 62.
  4. Johnsen, Dawn E. 2008. “What’s a President To Do? Intrepreting the Constitution In the Wake of Bush Administration Abuses” Boston University Law Review 88.
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