[National Intel] House reauthorizes spy program credited with preventing cyber attacks

The House on Thursday voted to reauthorize a key provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Section 702, with one new caveat: The FBI would be required to get a warrant to view the content of Americans’ communications that were swept up in authorized foreign surveillance.

Earlier, President Trump tweeted that the program was misused by the Obama administration to improperly spy on his presidential campaign — a claim that an increasing number of congressional members say is substantiated by evidence they have seen as they probe allegations of Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election.

But the House nevertheless overwhelmingly voted 256-164 to reauthorize the provision, and now the legislation heads to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass. Trump said he would sign the bill, which reauthorizes the provision for another six years.

The bill was supported by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who called foreign intelligence collection the “holy grail” that provides the U.S. government with invaluable insight into adversaries’ thinking, habits, and planned actions.

Supporters of the program say it has also prevented a host of cyber attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure. [source]

Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 3 for National Intelligence: How are state and federal agencies preparing for domestic conflict and/or instability?

(Analyst comment: No matter what you think of Trump’s claims regarding the alleged abuse of 702 by the Obama administration, lawmakers and intel pros who praise it as a valuable intelligence tool are absolutely correct. The politics aside, practical application of 702 by U.S. intelligence agencies is responsible for thwarting an incalculable number of security threats — to infrastructure, national defense, and other security concerns. The process isn’t perfect and at times can be and has been abused, but that is a rarity. The legal mechanisms in place to ensure the government ‘behaves itself’ are as good as they can be, given that the system is managed and overseen by humans. And the fact is, the government’s principal responsibility is defending the nation from threats. Hamstringing intelligence agencies dramatically decreases the government’s ability to perform that all-important function and puts every single American at risk.)

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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