Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 [50 U.S.C. 1803(a)], applications for what are essentially search warrants to conduct electronic surveillance within the United States of persons who are agents of foreign powers are heard by a special court -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The FISC was originally comprised of seven Federal district judges designated by the Chief Justice. In 2001, the U.S.A. Patriot Act (section 208) amended the FISA, increasing the number of FISC judges from seven to eleven. A three-member court of review -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) -- hears appeals of denials of applications. The Intelligence Authorization Act for 1995 expanded the FISA procedures to physical searches. For the FISC beginning, see Fred F. Manget, "Another System of Oversight: Intelligence and the Rise of Judicial Intervention," Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 5 (1996): 43-50.
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Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC):
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Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR)
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