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The families of 9/11 victims have called on Congress to pass a bill that will extend the nation’s warrantless surveillance capabilities, arguing that failing to do so could leave America vulnerable to future terrorist attacks.

The group of families reached out to Speaker Mike Johnson with a plea to secure a five-year reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This provision enables the government to conduct surveillance on noncitizens abroad without a warrant. Terry Strada, a prominent figure within 9/11 Families United, wrote in a letter that not renewing Section 702 could severely compromise national security.


In her letter, Strada said, “We remember how our nation failed to stop al Qaeda and those who provided the material support for those attacks. Our country was caught flat-footed, lacking the tools it needed to stop attacks in their planning stages, and we are still paying the price. We understand that there are those who want to make changes to how Section 702 works, in part to safeguard Americans’ civil liberties. We respect those voices.” Despite understanding these concerns, Strada argued against any reforms that might limit access to vital information, citing the dire outcomes of past intelligence failures.

Amidst these calls for action, the House Rules Committee moved forward with the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act. However, the impending House floor debate signals a contentious fight over incorporating a warrant requirement into the legislation, a proposal met with resistance from the intelligence community due to fears it would hinder swift action on threats. Conversely, privacy advocates and some lawmakers argue that a warrant requirement is essential for safeguarding American data.

Representatives Matt Gaetz, Tim Burchett, and Anna Paulina Luna have expressed opposition to the bill as it stands, mainly because it lacks a warrant requirement for surveilling Americans’ communications with foreign targets. Their resistance, alongside external pressures and Rep. Donald Payne Jr.’s expected absence due to health issues, could jeopardize the bill’s passage.


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