Fox's Goler falsely claimed FISA will expire February 15

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

On Special Report, Wendell Goler falsely asserted that "the president is trying ... to get the House to pass a permanent extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]" and that "[t]he president threw down the gauntlet, said he's not going to accept any more extensions, that this act must be permanently renewed before it expires in two days." In fact, FISA is not set to expire February 15; the Protect America Act's revisions to FISA are set to expire.

In a February 13 report on the congressional debate over the reauthorizing of the Protect America Act (PAA), Fox News White House correspondent Wendell Goler falsely asserted that "the president is trying ... to get the House to pass a permanent extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" and that "[t]he president threw down the gauntlet, said he's not going to accept any more extensions, that this act must be permanently renewed before it expires in two days." In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) is not set to expire February 15. What is set to expire are the PAA's revisions to FISA, which, among other things, expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on Americans' domestic-to-foreign communications without a warrant.

Following Goler's report, guest host Bret Baier stated, "Again, the big question mark, what happens if it doesn't get through?" The question was left unanswered on Special Report. However, the PAA's "transition procedures" point out what happens if the revisions are allowed to expire on February 15: All new authorizations for surveillance would be governed by the FISA statute as it existed prior to the PAA revisions, while all current authorizations would remain in effect until their scheduled expiration date.

Media Matters has documented numerous instances of media falsely reporting that the government's ability to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected terrorists would expire if the PAA were not extended.

From the February 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

BAIER: We'll bring in Wendell Goler here at the White House. Wendell, sum up, if you will, what the president is trying to get the House to do, and what is the major issue in this legislation?

GOLER: Well, the president is trying, Bret, to get the House to pass a permanent extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The problem is that lawmakers -- in the House, at least -- have concerns about wiretaps conducted after 9-11; whether the administration knowingly broke the law; and whether telephone companies that allowed the government to intercept phone conversations, presumably from foreign countries into the United States or from foreign countries to other foreign countries that were routed through the United States, whether those telephone companies should be immune from lawsuits. About 40 lawsuits are filed right now.

The president wants the current extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to give the telephone companies immunity from prosecution. A number of Democrats in the House, Bret, are reluctant to do that.

They proposed today a three-week extension of the current act, which has itself been extended. The president threw down the gauntlet, said he's not going to accept any more extensions, that this act must be permanently renewed before it expires in two days. The House attempted to pass the extension; it was voted down. Now they have two days to pass the Senate bill. Bret.

BAIER: All right. Wendell Goler at the White House. Again, the big question mark, what happens if it doesn't get through? We'll be watching. Wendell, thanks.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Intelligence
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Wendell Goler, Bret Baier
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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