US Intelligence Chiefs Urge Congress to Reauthorize FISA

© AP Photo / Patrick SemanskyNational Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (File)
National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (File) - Sputnik International
Failure by Congress to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before the law’s December 31 expiration would threaten the ability of the United States to guard against future terrorist attacks, the heads of the major US intelligence agencies and the Attorney General warned in a joint statement on Thursday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The statement was issued by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Rogers.

"Reauthorizing [FISA] Section 702 before it expires is vital to keeping the nation safe," the statement read. "Let us be clear: if Congress fails to act, vital intelligence collection on international terrorists and other foreign adversaries will be lost. The country will be less secure."

An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer. - Sputnik International
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The statement pressed Congress to reauthorize the provision before it terminates on December 31. It also suggested that short-term extensions of FISA Section 702 are not in the nation's best interest as they create uncertainty in planning and operations.

Section 702 refers to a provision in FISA that allows US intelligence to spy on foreigners, using electronic intercepts and other means.

Privacy advocates and critics in Congress claim Section 702 has been used to circumvent laws that prevent spying on US citizens and residents without a court order.

The joint statement denied charges of Section 702 abuse, saying that the US Intelligence Community employs the provision with the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens in mind. They also noted that courts have found the provision constitutional in cases where the measure has been challenged.

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