The director of the National Center for Combating Terrorism in the United States used the October 7 attack of the Hamas-led Palestinian resistance – the Al-Aqsa flood – on the Israeli occupation to justify the renewal of a mass surveillance program for American citizens.

The report, written by Daniel Bogslav, a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent, said the U.S. intelligence community faces calls to reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables the U.S. government to gather vast amounts of intelligence, including about U.S. citizens, under a broad category of foreign intelligence, without first seeking a warrant.

During a U.S. Senate press conference last week, a federal counterterrorism official cited the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and urged Congress to reauthorize the sprawling and controversial surveillance program.

Ensure constant vigilance

Christine Abizaid, director of the National Center for Counterterrorism, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee after repeated references to the Hamas attack that the "terrorist" threat landscape is very dynamic and America must maintain the fundamentals of "counterterrorism" to ensure constant vigilance.

The program, which is due to expire at the end of this year, was approved in 1978 and was greatly expanded in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, and while originally described as a way to gather information on foreign entities, it allows targeting U.S. citizens who are in contact with foreign nationals.

The loophole makes it easier for federal agencies to target large segments of the U.S. population, especially Muslims, Arabs and supporters of the Palestinian cause, and has been criticized for years by civil liberties advocates who view it as a clear example of government abuses.

The authority of 702 has been so abused that President Joe Biden's Intelligence Advisory Council recommended reducing the FBI's ability to manipulate power to investigate and prosecute Americans.