The USA Patriot Act: Promoting the Cooperation of Foreign Intelligence Gathering and Law Enforcement


The Patriot Act was in part intended to remove certain legal barriers to information sharing between the foreign intelligence and law enforcement communities. This Article considers changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and to  grand jury secrecy rules. The changes to the FISA enhanced the authority of intelligence officers to pool information with prosecutors in the Department of Justice. The changes to the grand jury secrecy rules enhanced the powers of prosecutors to share evidence with intelligence officers.

Taken together, these provisions authorized greater collaboration among intelligence officers and law enforcement personnel, spawning litigation and public debate over the provisions' scope and constitutionality. Although the Patriot Act expanded the powers of government officials charged with responding to terrorist threats, this Article argues that those powers remain subject to meaningful controls. The Patriot Act shifted some of the duties of regulation from the judicial branch to the legislative and executive branches. Given that questions of national security and privacy rights, and their appropriate balance, are among the most important policy issues confronting the nation, it is appropriate, and even preferable, that such debates take place openly, and in our elected branches.