Smucker Statement on Reauthorization of FISA Section 702
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) issued the following statement after voting to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for six years:
“The first priority of the federal government is to provide for the safety and security of the American people. FISA, and the use of Section 702, is one of our most effective intelligence tools we have and it has helped thwart terror attacks around the world, like preventing Al Qaeda from carrying-out a suicide bombing in the New York City subway system. The safety of the American people, and the protection of our troops serving in combat zones overseas, depends on effective programs like this one.
“It is also critical that Congress take steps to protect the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens – and this reauthorization does that. This reauthorization includes meaningful reforms like increased oversight measures, whistleblower protections, and updated query and reporting requirements.”
Section 702 has been a key instrument in U.S. counterterrorism efforts, as illustrated in the declassified story of Hajji Iman, the second-in-command of ISIS who was tracked via the use of Section 702 and removed from the battlefield. Section 702 remains one of the most heavily and carefully overseen authorities in the intelligence community, with oversight by all three branches of government.
DECLASSIFIED – Hajji Iman
Before rising through the ranks to become, at one point, the second-in-command of ISIS, Hajji Iman was a high school teacher and imam. His transformation from citizen to terrorist caused the U.S. government to offer a $7 million reward for information leading to him.
The National Security Agency (NSA), along with its intelligence community partners, spent over two years, from 2014 to 2016, looking for Hajji Iman. This search was ultimately successful based almost exclusively on intelligence activities under Section 702.
Beginning with non-Section 702 collection, NSA learned of an individual closely associated with Hajji Iman. NSA used collection, permitted and authorized under Section 702, to collect intelligence on the close associates of Hajji Iman. This allowed NSA to develop a robust body of knowledge concerning the personal network of Hajji Iman and his close associates.
Over a two-year period, using the FISA Section 702 collection, the intelligence community produced more intelligence on Hajji Iman’s associates, including their location. NSA and its tactical partners then combined information to identify Hajji Iman and track his movements. Ultimately, this collaboration enabled U.S. forces to attempt and apprehension of Hajji Iman and two of his associates. On March 24, 2016, during the attempted apprehension operation, shots were fired at the U.S. forces’ aircraft from Hajji Iman’s location. U.S. forces returned fire, killing Hajji Iman and the other associates at his location. Subsequent Section 702 collection confirmed Hajji Iman’s death.
Watch Speaker Ryan’s floor speech on this bill here.