The following table outlines some of the major pieces of national security legislation and provides citation information. Note that many of these statutes have been amended multiple times, and it is important for researchers to track the amendment history for a piece of legislation via the "Credit" line at the bottom of each statutory section in the U.S. Code. (See the next box on this page for a list of sources and research tools to use in the U.S. Code.)
The legislation highlighted below can be viewed online via GovInfo.
|War Powers Resolution||Pub. L. 93-148 (Nov. 7, 1973); 87 Stat. 555|
|Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978||Pub. L. 95-11 (Oct. 25, 1978); 92 Stat. 1783|
|PATRIOT Act of 2001||Pub. L. 107-56 (Oct. 26, 2001); 115 Stat. 272|
|Homeland Security Act of 2002||Pub. L. 107-296 (Nov. 25, 2002); 116 Stat. 2135|
|E-Government Act of 2002||Pub. L. 107-347 (Dec. 17, 2002); 116 Stat. 2899|
|Intelligence Reform & Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004||Pub. L. 108-458 (Dec. 17, 2004); 118 Stat. 3639|
|REAL ID Act of 2005||Pub. L. 109-113 (May 11, 2005); 119 Stat. 302|
|Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007||Pub. L. 110-53 (Aug. 3, 2007); 121 Stat. 266|
|Protect America Act of 2007||Pub. L. 110-55 (Aug. 5, 2007); 121 Stat. 552|
The official codification of federal law is the United States Code. It organizes all currently in force federal statutes by topic and allows for more robust searching via indexes and other useful tables.
Government websites, like GovInfo, provide access to authenticated versions of the U.S. Code. Subscription legal databases, like Lexis+ and Westlaw Edge, provide access to annotated versions of the United States Code and other primary law sources, and these annotations also contain summaries of judicial decisions, regulations, and other primary law materials relating to a statute. The following is a list of sources for accessing the U.S. Code:
When using the U.S. Code (or its annotated versions in Westlaw Edge or Lexis+) to conduct additional research into national security law, try using the following tools to enhance your research process.
|Index||Allows searching through controlled vocabulary for relevant statutes. For example, you can search "national security" as an index term and find statutes related to that phrase.|
|Popular Names Table||Allows searching for statutes via their popular names or acronyms. For example, a search for "FISA" would connect you to the relevant sections in the U.S. Code for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, along with many of its amendments.|
|Credit Line||Found at the end of every statutory section in the U.S. Code, the credit line tracks the amendment history for the statute you are viewing. Use this credit line to identify the original piece of legislation (via a Public Law or Statutes at Large citation) and the dates and citations for any amendments.||Viewed at the end of a statutory section in the U.S. Code.|
Legislative history is one source for researching legislative intent behind a statute. The Congressional Record, House and Senate Reports, and hearings are all forms of legislative history records that enable a legal researcher to track the discussion and debate surrounding a new law and obtain a clearer understanding of legislators' intent in passing the law.
Compiled legislative histories are useful for legal researchers because they collect all relevant documents into a single place. Compiled legislative histories are available for most of the major national security legislation passed since 9/11. The following resources all provide compiled legislative histories:
To learn more about conducting federal legislative history research, check out Georgetown Law Library's Legislative History Research Guide.