United States v. Duggan

743 F. 2d 59 – 1984

Facts: Members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army were convicted on a number of charges relating to export, transportation, and delivery of explosives and arms. Defendants move to suppress the evidence the government obtained as a result of tape recordings and information obtained pursuant to a FISA surveillance of the defendants.

Issue: Whether (1) FISA is unconstitutional and (2) even if it is not unconstitutional, its requirements were not met in this case.

Holding: Court finds that:

  • Re: Constitutionality of FISA
  • FISA is not overly broad and thus does not violate DP
  • FISA does not violate the probable cause requirement of the 4th Amendment. The Act requires that the FISA judge find probable cause to believe that the target is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, and that the place at which the electronic surveillance is to be directed is being used or is about to be used by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power; and it requires him to find that the application meets the requirements of the Act. The procedures fashioned in FISA are a constitutionally adequate balancing of the individuals Fourth Amendment rights against the nations need to obtain foreign intelligence information.
  • FISA does not deprive nonresident aliens of Equal Protection. The fact that an Act of Congress treats aliens differently from citizens does not itself imply that such disparate treatment is “invidious.” The different treatment accorded nonresident aliens under FISA is rationally related toe the Acts purposes of attempting to protect the US against various types of acts of foreign powers and to acquire information necessary to the national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.
  • Re: Compliance with FISA
  • Defendants contend that some of the surveillance was not authorized b/c it was sought as part of a criminal investigation.
  • Ct: FISA only requires that foreign intelligence information be the primary objective of the surveillance, and it was asserted in the application for the warrant that it was. The FISA judge, in reviewing the application, is not to second-guess the executive branch official’s certification that the objective of the surveillance is foreign intelligence information.
    • The court upholds the convictions.

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