Within the pantheon of Trump administration scandals, the manufactured uproar over “unmasking” came and went quicker than most. It was last spring that White House officials, working in tandem with House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, laundered intelligence information in an effort to train Americans’ sights on a practice that is routine—if highly regulated—within our national security establishment.
Latest in Section 702
NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell delivered the following speech on September 14, 2017 at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security.
Good afternoon, and thank you for having me here today. I'd like to start by telling you a story about a former high school teacher in the Middle East. Somewhere along the way, this high school teacher became radicalized and joined a terrorist organization, rising through the ranks to become, at one point, the second-in-command of ISIS. He was known as Hajji Iman.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats sent a letter to the congressional leadership on Monday calling for a reauthorization of FISA Title VII, including Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Among their comments, they request reauthorization "without amendment beyond removing the sunset provision, to avoid any interruption in our use of these authorities to protect the American people." The full letter is included below.
In response to a FOIA request from the ACLU, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice released FISA Amendments Act Section 702 documents on August 23. Below, we summarize each document. Note that redactions necessarily leave noticeable gaps in some of the summaries.
On December 31, 2017, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act will sunset. While U.S. officials insist that the provision authorizes critical intelligence gathering, it remains an open question whether Congress will reauthorize the law as it exists, pass it with amendments, or allow it to lapse altogether. In this week's podcast, Susan Hennessey sits down with FBI General Counsel Jim Baker and the Bureau's Executive Assistant Director of the National Security Branch Carl Ghattas to discuss the FBI's perspective on the legal and operational elements of Section 702.
The many controversies currently distracting Congress, the White House, and Washington more broadly cannot change an impending deadline: the December 31st expiration of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) and its most controversial component, Section 702. The five-month countdown and a packed legislative calendar suggest that Capitol Hill is underestimating the time it will take to agree on renewal. When Congress last reauthorized Section 702, it was a relatively mild affair. This time, however, opposition to a “clean” reauthorization is likely to be far stronger.
The Senate Judiciary Committee convened two panels today for a hearing on Section 702 reauthorization.
Those following the Section 702 reauthorization debate may be interested in Germany’s recent intelligence reforms. One aspect of particular interest—which I also focus on in a new paper—is new limits on the collection of data from non-nationals outside of Germany, enforced in part by a new judicial oversight mechanism.
Context: Germany’s recent intelligence reform process
Pursuant to a FOIA request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the FISA Court has released 18 redacted opinions regarding FISA Section 702. The opinions primarily concern the authorization of proposed targeting and minimization procedures to assure that their letter and implementation accord with statute and the Fourth Amendment.