Homeland Security Chairman Backs Buchanan Bill
WASHINGTON – The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee said today he supports Rep. Vern Buchanan’s bill to keep terrorists out of America by screening the social media accounts of foreigners seeking entry into the country.
Chairman Michael McCaul’s support comes on the heels of remarks made this week by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that ISIS continues to use social media to recruit and spread its propaganda.
Buchanan’s Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act, (H.R. 4301), 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.
“This legislation adds an important and necessary layer of screening that will go a long way in properly vetting the online activities of those wishing to enter the United States,” said McCaul, R-TX. “A simple check of social media accounts of foreign travelers and visa applicants will help ensure that those who have participated in, pledged allegiance to, or communicated with terrorist organizations cannot enter the United States. I know this will be a useful tool for the Department of Homeland Security and will aid in securing our homeland.”
During a Tuesday U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Clapper said that among radical jihadist groups, ISIS “is probably most proficient at harnessing social media to disseminate propaganda and solicit recruits among a broad audience. It is likely to continue these activities in 2016 by using videos, photos, and other propaganda glorifying life under ISIL rule and promoting the group’s military successes.”
Clapper also acknowledged that ISIS has attempted to infiltrate the refugee population to move operatives into other countries. Following Clapper’s testimony, Buchanan called on Congress to immediately take action on his bill.
“The United States cannot be complacent as extremists try to spread their fanaticism and inspire attacks using social media,” Buchanan said. “We must do everything in our power to protect Americans.”
Buchanan’s bill, introduced after reports surfaced that one of the terrorists behind the San Bernardino killings had pledged support to Islamic jihad using Facebook, mirrors legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ.
Earlier this week Buchanan held a town hall in Sarasota in which McCaul praised the congressman for his work on the issue.
“We have 200,000 ISIS tweets per day,” McCaul said. “That’s one of our biggest challenges.”