The House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill co-sponsored by local U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) that calls for greater oversight by Congress on how national intelligence officials track foreign fighters who travel to and from terrorist safe havens abroad.
House Resolution 4239 would require the director of national intelligence to submit a report to congressional committees on applicable foreign fighters every six months. The reports would be deemed classified and consistent with protecting sources and methods though an unclassified report would also be provided.
The proposed legislation, co-introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), received no dissent in a 423-0 vote in the lower congressional house two weeks ago.
"To defeat ISIL, we must be more coordinated than they are," Swalwell, whose district includes San Ramon, said in a statement. "Today, we are vulnerable to ISIL fighters who travel to terrorist safe havens and then to the United States to carry out attacks against innocent Americans."
"This bipartisan legislation makes sure our intelligence community tracks and reports to Congress any individual, across the globe, who travels to terrorist safe havens," he added. "To best understand the threats to Americans, we must know who is fighting and/or training in terrorist hot zones and capable of coming to the United States."
The congressmen, both members of the House CIA Subcommittee, introduced the bill a little more than a week after a mass shooting in San Bernardino in which a married couple of Pakistani descent killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 others.
"I applaud my colleagues for recognizing the need for greater congressional oversight and a clear assessment of the number of terrorists being trained in safe havens across the globe," LoBiondo said in a statement. "Only then can our strategic counterterrorism efforts succeed and we prevent future attacks like San Bernardino."
The bill says the national intelligence director's report to Congress must include:
* The total number of foreign fighters who have traveled or are suspected of having traveled to the terrorist safe haven since 2011, including the countries of origin of such foreign fighters.
* Total number of U.S. citizens present in the terrorist safe haven.
* Total number of foreign fighters who have left the terrorist safe haven or whose whereabouts are unknown.
Dubbed the "Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act," HR 4239 was referred to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for consideration on Dec. 17.