CIA Director argues warrantless FISA surveillance needed to stop fentanyl

“Section 702 is an essential tool in CIA’s mission to protect the American people from a range of threats."


The Biden administration is making a concerted effort to support the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before the House votes on Friday. 

CIA Director Bill Burns, in a rare public statement to Politico about how the agency uses these surveillance powers, highlighted the importance of FISA's authority, particularly in combating the illegal shipment of fentanyl into the US.

“The threat to the US posed by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is real,” Burns said in his statement to Politico. “Section 702 is an essential tool in CIA’s mission to protect the American people from a range of threats, including illicit fentanyl trafficking. Without this vital program, CIA simply would not be able to defend our country as effectively in as many dangerous corners of the world.”

The White House has echoed Burns' sentiments, emphasizing the critical role of the reauthorization bill in national security efforts. National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby emphasized the administration's strong support for the bipartisan effort to reauthorize Section 702, claiming it is critical to national security.

“Obviously we strongly support the bipartisan effort to get 702 reauthorized,” said national security communications advisor John Kirby. “It is vital to our ability to defend ourselves, defend … the American people, and we very much want to see it move forward — get extended and move forward.”

Section 702 of FISA is set to expire on April 19. The section allows US government officials to collect electronic communications without a warrant. 

Earlier this week former President Donald Trump urged Republican lawmakers to vote against efforts to reauthorize section 702. In a post on Truth Social, the presidential candidate demanded that lawmakers “Kill FISA,” further stating that the surveillance act was used against him to spy on his campaign.
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