Fox's Kelly falsely asserted that bill "allow[ing] the president to ... surveil" will expire on Feb. 15

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

While discussing the "dogfight under way" over the Protect America Act, Fox News' Megyn Kelly falsely claimed that "this bill," which "allows the president to, among other things, surveil the conversations between American citizens and those suspected of being terrorists overseas" is "set to expire on Friday," February 15. In fact, only revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act made in August 2007 would expire; the government would retain the authority to monitor the communications of suspected terrorists.

On the February 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, while discussing the congressional debate to reauthorize the Protect America Act (PAA), co-host Megyn Kelly said: "There is a dogfight under way on Capitol Hill right now over this bill that allows the president to, among other things, surveil the conversations between American citizens and those suspected of being terrorists overseas," which, Kelly asserted, is "set to expire on Friday," February 15. In fact, the government's authority to eavesdrop on "the conversations between American citizens and those suspected of being terrorists overseas" long precedes the PAA, which was passed in August 2007.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) codified the government's authority to conduct electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence information, establishing the conditions under which it could do so, including that the government obtain a court order in most circumstances if the communications were intercepted in the United States or acquired by intentionally targeting the communications of a particular, known U.S. person who is in the United States. 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. According to the PAA's "transition procedures," if those 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 for America 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 9 a.m. ET hour of the February 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

KELLY: That's a live shot of the Oval Office, folks, and that is the place from which the president will be making his remarks this morning. We are told that he will be commenting on the Protect America Act.

There is a dogfight under way on Capitol Hill right now over this bill that allows the president to, among other things, surveil the conversations between American citizens and those suspected to be terrorists overseas.

This bill has a bunch of controversial provisions in it, and it's set to expire on Friday. The Senate and the House warring over what will be and what will not be in the law, and the president will address that matter in just moments. We're going to carry it for you live.

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