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Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) questioned top U.S. intelligence officials at an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The hearing provided a comprehensive overview of FISA’s authorities, current oversight mechanisms, and provided an opportunity for committee members to question officials on the value this court-authorized collection provides to the United States Intelligence Community. FISA is set to expire on December 31, 2017.

Excerpts of Risch’s remarks and questions are below:

“It's becoming patently obvious to those of us that work in the intelligence community that we're in a different position than Europe. Europe’s risks are obviously very high, and they're suffering from [terror] attacks on a very regular basis, and becoming more regular. To that end, I would like to talk about our collection efforts versus the European collection efforts, and particularly as it relates to Section 702 [of FISA].

“We hear in the media frequently about spats between us and the Europeans regarding intelligence matters. But we all know that there is a robust communication and cooperation between our European friends and ourselves.

“I ask each of you today, how important is the continuation of Section 702 and its related parts to doing what we have been doing to help the Europeans, and the Europeans helping us, ... to ensure that we don't have the kind of situations that have been recently happening in Europe?”

After officials noted that there have been no intentional violations of FISA in the last 10 years, Risch asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to commit to fully prosecuting any American under full penalty of the law that is caught intentionally misusing this intelligence tool. The full exchange can be found here.