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April 15, 2024 Top Legal News of the Week

FBI Chief Wray: All tools needed to protect national security

Lawyers play a critical role in helping the American public understand what’s at stake when it comes to national security threats, said FBI Director Christopher Wray at an April 9 luncheon sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

FBI Director Christopher Wray addresses an ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security luncheon.

FBI Director Christopher Wray addresses an ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security luncheon.

American Bar Association photo

“We need lawyers … to explain what’s law and what’s policy, what a warrant is and what it isn’t, and to help illuminate the consequences of purposefully choosing to limit the American intelligence community from accessing key and timely information about our foreign adversaries,” he said, referring to the current debate in Congress on reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Set to expire April 19, Section 702 governs how federal agencies may collect and use data collected from overseas targets, including conversations with or about Americans.

“America’s adversaries aren’t pulling any punches — they’re coming at us with everything they’ve got. So, this is not the time for us to hang up our gloves or take away the tools that help us punch back,” Wray said, adding that China’s state-sponsored hacking program is bigger than that of all other major nations combined. “If each one of the FBI’s cyber agents and intelligence analysts focused exclusively on the China threat, China’s hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1.”

China is not the only adversary the United States is up against. “Russia and Iran are also determined to use every available tool at their disposal to take aim at things we all hold sacred — our freedoms, prosperity and democratic norms,” Wray said.

“We’re in crunch time when it comes to reauthorizing this vital authority. And as the threats to our homeland continue to evolve, the agility and effectiveness of 702 will be essential to the FBI’s ability — and really our mandate from the American people — to keep them safe for years to come.”

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