Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Scolds Lame Terrorist Screening Plan

Jun 28, 2016
Press Release
Voluntary Disclosure a Joke – “Won't Keep Anyone Safe”

“To Win On Digital Battlefield, Mandatory Screening Required”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today dismissed an Obama administration plan to ask foreigners for permission to screen their social media accounts, saying “no ISIS terrorist will voluntarily offer up incriminating evidence.”

“What terrorist is going to give our government permission to see their radical jihadist rants on social media?” Buchanan asked. “The only people who will share that information are those with nothing to hide.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal would ask foreign travelers, including those using the visa waiver program, to voluntarily provide their social media information in an optional data field section on arrival and departure forms. 

“Voluntary disclosure won't keep anyone safe,” Buchanan said. “If we want to win on the digital battlefield, mandatory screening is required.”

The policy change was recommended by DHS last week and published in the Federal Register.

Buchanan is the author of federal legislation to require social media screening for any foreigner who wants to enter America. His Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country.

“Internet and social media sites are now a digital battlefield for terrorists,” Buchanan said. “My bill requires the examination of social media to ensure we aren’t opening our doors to terrorists. This proposal lacks teeth, and fails to make America safer.”

The bill has the support of the chairmen of the House Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

Buchanan questioned how the administration is even proposing this optional form of disclosure with a straight face while admitting that it will “enhance the existing investigative process” and provide “greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections.”

Buchanan vehemently disagrees with their position, and said the government should be required to use all tools at its disposal to fight radical Islamic jihadists.

The Congressman pointed to chilling testimony from CIA Director John Brennan who delivered an alarming account of ISIS’s strength just days after the Orlando attack as cause to require social media screening.

ISIS has become notorious for using social media and the internet to recruit, communicate and fundraise.

In fact, a top counterterrorism adviser to the Obama administration recently stated that “They’re on Facebook. They’re on YouTube. There are something like 90,000 Twitter accounts associated with or sympathetic to ISIL, sometimes with 50,000 followers each.”

“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach,” Brennan said.