Liveblog: Senate Intel Committee's Section 702 Hearing

Intel. Director Facing Senate Amid Claims of Trump Pressure

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who spoke on behalf of other intel leaders at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing Wednesday, said Section 702 should be permanent. Burr asked NSA Director Mike Rogers, who replied that there had not been, and said that if Section 702 collection was not authorized, the NSA would be unable to identify and prevent critical threats to United States national security.

- "We have good reasons to be concerned about the impact of section 702 on the criminal justice system" Sarah St.Vincent writes in JustSecurity.org: "While this monitoring has considerable human rights implications for the foreigners who are targeted, it is likely that the dragnet is also capturing large numbers of USA persons" communications.

He told lawmakers it is "infeasible to generate an exact, accurate, meaningful, and responsive methodology that can count how often a US person's communications may be incidentally collected under Section 702".

"The law is expressly created to ensure that we are not using this capability to target USA persons", Rogers said.

The statement ran counter to what senior intelligence officials had previously promised both publicly and in private briefings during the previous administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, lawmakers and congressional staffers working on drafting reforms to Section 702 said.

Coats, in his opening remarks, confirmed that the Trump administration is pushing for a "permanent reauthorization" of Section 702, which would prevent it from expiring.

When a USA person is involved in these monitored conversations in any way, Rogers said, "we first ask ourselves if we are looking at a potentially criminal act". "We are not a law enforcement agency".

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said later that "if there are willful violations" of Section 702, then the Department of Justice would hold those individuals accountable.

Asked repeatedly by independent Sen.

"The President seems to complicate things from time to time, but it's hard for me to believe that FISA will not be renewed", said Sen. "This pool of warrantless Section 702 information on USA persons is probably sizeable".

Some Republicans who usually support surveillance programs have expressed concerns about Section 702, in part because they are anxious about leaks of intercepts of conversations between Trump associates and Russian officials amid investigations of possible collusion.

Rogers said that, for the NSA, "20 individuals in 12 different positions" have the ability to authorize an unmasking. "We've got to reauthorize this program in full and for good, so we can put our enemies back on their heels and keep American lives safe from harm".

"The basis of the request must be that you need this identity to understand the intelligence you're reading", Rogers said.

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