The government for its part, specifically the Department of Justice defends that the provisions of the PAA as one which does not violate the civil liberties and rights of the American citizens (U. S. DOJ web site, n. d. ). The PAA carries with it the protections under the FISA because surveillance directed to U. S. citizens still requires judicial intervention. The FISA itself is silent on court order and does not require it if the target is located outside the territory of the U. S. (U. S. DOJ web site, n. d. ).
It further explained that domestic wiretapping is never employed in domestic communications within the U. S. directed at those in the U. S. Moreover, electronic surveillance directed to persons in the U. S. requires court order and which requirement as embodied in the FISA was not disturbed or changed (U. S. DOJ web site, n. d. ). In cases where a foreign target communicates with a person in the U. S. , such communication shall be intercepted without a court order.
By requiring the intelligence community to always secure a court approval would be detrimental to the immediacy of securing the information. It also would be a waste of scarce resource—experts to be using their time in securing the court’s approval (U. S. DOJ web site, n. d. ). The provisions of the PAA do not authorize the government from searching and seizing documents or mails from private persons and the provisions authorizing the authorities in directing communication service providers and telephone companies in assisting them are only limited to foreign activities or information (U.
S. DOJ web site, n. d. ). This notwithstanding, these firms can in fact, raise issue on this before the FISA court. Finally, the DOJ stresses that there is accountability considering that assessments shall be made and reports shall be required to be submitted to the judiciary, the DOJ and the office of the Director of National Intelligence (U. S. DOJ web site, n. d. ). In sum, the government reiterates that the PAA simply updates the FISA so that it can be more responsive and in keeping with the technological changes.
The rights of the American people are not violated or disturbed. The PAA is imperative as this is one of those strategies that the government is counting on to fight terrorism so that a 9/11 incident may be avoided in the future. On the other hand, the advocates against the PAA claim that it removes the proscription on warrantless spying against American citizens. It also gives the government access to internet service providers, telephone and cell phone companies to lend assistance to them and allow them to use the network for spying purposes.
The law provides the parameters of what matters do not constitute surveillance, i. e. “the act of reading and listening into American's phone calls and internet communications when they are ‘reasonably believed’ to be outside the country” (Singel, 2007). It grants the government six months to direct the communications companies to still assist them in surveillance and based on the tenor of the provisions of the law—it does not require that surveillance target only people outside the U. S. (Singel, 2007).
Although the law requires the Attorney General to present reports to the surveillance court to qualify it as not falling within the purview of “domestic spying programs” but it only authorizes the court to “only throw out those reasons if it finds that they are clearly erroneous” (Singel, 2007). The law further requires the Attorney General to submit to Congress reports on statistics, cases of abuse of its power of surveillance and the manner by which the programs have been implemented (Singel, 2007).
The advocates against the PAA further contend that the government seems to have been oblivious of the findings of the FBI of abuses in the self-issued subpoenas in pursuance of the PAA as reported to the Inspector General. The government through the DOJ, has assured the public that the surveillance made with the assistance of the communications companies shall be monitored yet the reports of abuses in this area were under reported to the Congress.