Intelligence agencies, in collaboration with the current administration, have presented Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Congress as a vital tool for safeguarding Americans against foreign threats.
However, as highlighted by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Tuesday’s proceedings, it has become evident that this provision has been exploited as a loophole, allowing corrupt bureaucrats to engage in surveillance activities targeting American citizens.
Over the course of almost two decades, Section 702 has evolved into a convenient justification for the security apparatus to engage in warrantless surveillance of American citizens. The FBI’s unlawful targeting of Carter Page, a former adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, serves as a notable illustration of this disturbing pattern.
If the Biden administration, the officials within the implicated agencies, and establishment legislators have their way, the bureaucrats involved in the abuse of this statute may be granted continued permission to conduct surveillance on Americans without facing any consequences.
The lengthy hearing made it abundantly clear that the last thing the bureaucrats responsible for years of power abuses want is for the policy enabling those abuses to be terminated. During the hearing, top-level witnesses from the FBI, CIA, DOJ, DNI, and NSA passionately pleaded with Congress to preserve Section 702.
— Martin Matishak (@martinmatishak) June 13, 2023
According to NSA Deputy Director George Barnes, the absence of Section 702 would result in significant impairment of our nation’s security.
Barnes argued, “Last year, nearly every item in the presidential intelligence priorities list was addressed in some way, shape, or form by 702. It’s not replaceable. NSA could not replicate intelligence from 702 using other authorities. It’s agile, specific, and efficient.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) began his line of questioning by emphasizing the potential consequences of tampering with Section 702, highlighting the unchecked activities of foreign adversaries such as ISIS, China, and Russia. He aimed to convince Americans, who harbor a deep distrust of the DOJ and FBI due to their partisan actions in recent years, that maintaining the status quo is crucial for national security.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) echoed the sentiments expressed by Graham and the witnesses, emphasizing the essential role of Section 702 in safeguarding national security.
They questioned the witnesses regarding their openness to implementing changes aimed at addressing the abuses that have tarnished the law’s reputation and jeopardized its automatic renewal.