- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2017

Senators said Friday they want the top U.S. intelligence officials to testify next week on laws governing the scope of government spying and collection of foreign intelligence.

The issue is of pressing importance given that key provisions of the controversial regulations will expire at the end of this year.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Mark Warner, have requested Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify in both public and closed-door hearings Wednesday.

The hearing will discuss the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, according to a statement issued by the committee Friday.

A major matter expected to be discussed during the FISA hearing is Section 702, which allows federal agencies to monitor digital communications of foreigners located overseas whose communications pass through U.S. telecom or Internet channels.

For technical reasons, those communications can also be incidentally monitored so that data can be collected on Americans — which has raised critical privacy and civil liberty issues.

That section of FISA will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes it.

FISA laws have factored in several Russia-election meddling probes currently underway because President Trump has claimed the Obama administration officials illegally abused the laws to spy on him and his staff during the presidential campaign and transition — then leaked what they learned to the press.

The day after the FISA hearing, the Senate Intelligence committee will hear testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Mr. Trump last month, as part of their Russian meddling investigation. Before his dismissal, Mr. Comey oversaw the FBI’s probe into alleged collusion between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

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