Senator Lankford Questions FBI Director During Rare Public Senate Intelligence Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a rare public Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey as the lone witness. The purpose of the hearing was to analyze challenges for America’s counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations. The hearing discussion focused on an appropriate balance  between lawful, fourth amendment searches and a commitment to protection of personal privacy, as well as the implications for cybersecurity.”

CLICK HERE to view the hearing Q&A

During Lankford’s questioning, he said, “Director Comey, thank you for all your work. Please pass on to the folks who worked very long hours leading up to July 4th our appreciation for what they did for the nation, and for the citizens of my state.

“The challenge that we face is not only on the technology side, and dealing with terrorism, it’s all the benefit that is gained from [cybersecurity]. I would tell you, the folks at OPM would be glad to talk about encryption and the value of that right now. Whether that be retailers around the country, whether that be banks, whether that be government agencies, we are benefiting from encryption and from the technology that has been invented. The hard part of this is the other side. We’ve got to have some kind of balance in the conversation. We absolutely need encrypted technology because we are very exposed. We need that technology to continue to advance on one side, as we deal with cybersecurity, but on basic law enforcement and on real threats for physical security, we’ve got to have a different ability.”

Director Comey’s testimony focused on how new technology is changing how the federal government performs homeland security operations. In his opening statement, Comey said, “Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the widespread reach of terrorists’ influence, which transcends geographic boundaries like never before. As technology advances so, too, does terrorists’ use of technology to communicate—both to inspire and recruit. The widespread use of technology propagates the persistent terrorist message to attack U.S. interests whether in the homeland or abroad. As the threat to harm Western interests evolves, we must adapt and confront the challenges, relying heavily on the strength of our federal, state, local, and international partnerships.”

Most Senate Intelligence Committee hearings are private because of the classified nature of the subject matter. Today’s hearing was the second public hearing of year.