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NSA Head Wants Section 702 of Surveillance Act Reauthorized

Paul Nakasone

Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, chief of the National Security Agency, said Section 702, which is described in the intelligence community as one of the “crown jewels” of American spying, should be reauthorized.

According to Nakasone, a seven-time Wash100 Award winner, Section 702 is the “most important authority” the IC uses daily. It saves lives and protects the nation, he said, adding, “I think there is clearly… a national security impact if it isn’t reauthorized.” The general made the remarks at an Aug. 10 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The provision was introduced in 2008 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and is up for renewal before the end of 2023.

Section 702 has received mounting criticism over the years, including from members of the U.S. Congress. Most recently, in a July hearing, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance expressed concerns that the FBI is using the provision as a “backdoor” to spy on American citizens.

The legislation authorizes the collection of information on foreign nationals outside the United States, but targets are often in communication with American citizens. During the House subcommittee hearing in July, witnesses said that in 2021 alone,  the FBI had made about 3.4 million queries on Americans’ communications in relation to Section 702.

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