Slick, Chesney Discuss Foreign Intelligence, Section 215

May 18, 2015

ISP Director Steve Slick and Bobby Chesney participated in a PCLOB public hearing on foreign intelligence and counterterrorism activities conducted under EO 12333.

Video of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) public session is available below:

In his testimony before the PCLOB Slick focused on the practical application of Executive Order 12333, as well as the privacy and civil liberties issues that arose in the process of amending the Order in 2008. Slick asserted that the goal of the 2008 amendments was to establish a durable model for effective intelligence gathering. Citing his professional experience overseas as a managing Central Intelligence Agency field stations, he emphasized the seriousness with which field intelligence collectors treat the provisions of the Order. A full transcript of Slick’s remarks is available here.

During his testimony, Chesney discussed foreign intelligence gathering and constitutional separation of powers, and more specifically the relationship between Presidential and Congressional power. Chesney explained that the executive branch has traditionally engaged in foreign intelligence collection without formal and specific statutory authorization. He held that the interesting question is not whether or not the president has this kind of authority, but whether or not and what kind of constraints Congress can impose.

Following the hearing, Chesney joined National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen for a podcast discussion of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision questioning the Administration’s Section 215 metadata surveillance program. Chesney concluded that while the program has utility and sensibility, bulk haystack collection was likely not a consideration in the legislation’s original conception or intent. The podcast is available on the National Constitution Center’s website.