US Officials Relying On FISA To Halt Weapons Pipeline To Iran

( – Intelligence officials have defended the controversial laws provided by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, saying they allow them to prevent sales to Iran. Section 702 permits the CIA and other agencies to examine text messages and emails of foreign nationals based outside of the United States and is due to expire at the end of the year. Therefore, agencies now want to persuade Congress to renew the powers, which they also claim assist them in fighting the inflow of lethal drugs into the US.

As an example of its use relating to Iran, officials said it helped them identify a company and an individual attempting to sidestep sanctions and sell millions of dollars worth of goods to the Iranian regime. “Sometimes 702 is the only collection that we have on these kinds of things,” the official said, but he did not name the individual or company involved in this specific case.

Section 702 is contentious due to accusations of civil rights violations. It came to public attention when it was revealed that its powers were improperly used by the FBI hundreds of thousands of times, including to collect information on January 6 protestors and members of Black Lives Matter.

The Biden administration is keen on the legislation’s renewal and says it helps the government keep Americans safe. But Congress members and voters on both sides of the political aisle have expressed skepticism and concern about its use.

A poll conducted over the summer found that 44% of Americans oppose the powers of Section 702, while only 28% approve. This demonstrated a decrease from 54% in 2021 and two-thirds in 2011. The decline was most marked with Republican voters, whose support dropped from 69% in 2011 to 44% this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in November wrote to Congress urging lawmakers to reject calls to renew the legislation, saying it is a “mass spying program” that “betrays the public trust.”

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