Of the panelists, it fell to Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice to state the uncomfortable reality that Section 702 is used to "collect a massive amount of Americans' communications," and that through a series of extravagant interpretations of the law, the end result is routine searches of that database for "ordinary criminal proceedings" in the US.
"The FBI is reading Americans' emails and listening to their phone calls without a factual basis to suspect them of wrongdoing, let alone a warrant," she noted.
NSA slurps up pretty much every scrap of communications that Americans engage in, and stores it in their el mongo groso Utah data center. They claim that it is only accessed under supervision - believe as much of that as you like.When pressed on how she knew this, she pointed to explicit conclusions in a report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) – the government's independent civil rights body that Congress has fatally undermined since it declared that the NSA's Section 215 phone surveillance program was unconstitutional in 2014. (Since that report, four of the five PCLOB board members have either resigned or not had their terms renewed, leaving it unable to legally function.)
It's not a surprise that the phone conversations of the Vice President Elect were recorded. That they were accessed by numerous persons in the Intelligence community is not much of a surprise, after the revelations of the last 4 years. Note that this isn't just my opinion - it's also the opinion of members of Congress:
Ted Lieu (D-CA) noted that the NSA violates the Fourth Amendment when it collects communications on Americans and then violates it again when it scans those communications. Kosseff argued that only the collection of data, and not a subsequent search of it, was a Fourth Amendment question.
Ted Poe (R-TX) said he considered it "illegal and a violation of the Constitution and an abuse of power" for the FBI to search the database without a warrant.
NSA refuses to say how many Americans' communications are "accidentally" collected and accessed. I guess it depends on the meaning of the word "accidentally" is ...Raúl Labrador (R-ID) was concerned that such a system could be used to distort domestic politics. He referred to the recent resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying about the conversations he'd had with the Russian ambassador, noting that it had had "a chilling effect on me because I thought my political opponents could use my own personal information against me."
Remember, General Clapper's perjury before Congress was saying that there was no mass surveillance of the American public.