Frederick Forsyth thriller: Republicans pursue a leaker & Democrats pursue a plotter. @deftechpat Patrick Tucker @defenseone



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Frederick Forsyth thriller: Republicans pursue a leaker & Democrats pursue a plotter. @deftechpat Patrick Tucker @defenseone

“House Republicans sent a surprising message to the director of the FBI on Monday: cracking down on leaks is every bit as important as investigating connections between Trump campaign officials and Russia. They added an even more surprising threat: if you won’t do the former, we may take away a surveillance law that helps you do the latter.

The tool in question is section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. It allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance under warrants approved by the FISA court in cases related to foreign intelligence surveillance targets. FBI director James Comey and others have called section 702 a key tool for intelligence collection, even more important than the bulk metadata collection program (which effectively ended under the USA Freedom Act).

Some aspects of section 702 had already become a target for congressional Republicans worried about surveillance overreach. During a March 1 House Judiciary Committee hearing, Republicans asked whether the collection of intelligence on Trump campaigner Michael Flynn had been appropriate and lawful. They expressed concern that transcripts of a conversation between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak had been made became public to undermine the Trump administration rather than expose possibly unlawful negotiations with the Kremlin….”


ROGERS: There are 20 individuals including myself who I have delegated this authority to approve unmask requests.

ROONEY: And does the level of approval change depending on the reason for unmasking? If it was something or somebody, say, really important would that matter or could it be...

ROGERS: Not -- it's not necessarily designated in writing that way, but certainly by custom and tradition, at times requests will be pushed up to my -- I'm the senior-most of the 20 individuals. Requests will be pushed to my level, say "hey, sir, we just want to make sure that you're comfortable with this."

ROONEY: Right. So 20 people, that -- you know, what procedures or safeguards are put in place to make sure that those 20 people are not unmasking wrongly?

ROGERS: So they retrieve specific training, there are specific controls put in place in terms of our ability to disseminate information out of the databases associated with U.S. persons.

ROONEY: OK. Let's run through the exceptions quickly through a following hypothetical. If the NSA collects a communication where a target under surveillance is talking to a U.S. person, how would the NSA determine whether disseminating the U.S. person information is necessary to understanding the foreign intelligence or assess its importance?

ROGERS: So first of all, try to understand the nature of the conversation. Is this truly something that involves intelligence or a national security implication for the United States or is this just very normal, reasonable conversations, in which case we have no desire to have any awareness of it, it's not applicable to our mission.

In that case, normally we'll purge the data. We'll ask ourselves, is there criminal activity involved, is there a threat, potential threat or harm to U.S. individuals being discussed in a conversation for example.

ROONEY: If there was criminal activity involved, what would you do then? ROGERS: If when we disseminate -- if we decide we need -- if it's criminal activity, we'll disseminate the information and if the FBI or other criminal activities are on the reporting stream, in some cases I a...

Mar 21, 04:23 AM
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