HERSHEY, Pennsylvania — House Speaker John Boehner said that a man arrested in a plot to bomb the U.S. Capitol was caught using a program allowed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law that has come under fire from civil liberties advocates who say it gives the government too much power to spy on Americans’ communications.“With regard to the threat to the Capitol, coming frankly not far from where I live, the first thing that strikes me is we would have never known about this had it not been for the FISA program and our ability to collect information on people who pose an imminent threat,” Boehner told reporters at the GOP retreat in Hershey.
Police charged Christopher Lee Cornell, 20 with planning to plant explosives at the Capitol and then assault it with automatic weapons. The FBI said the public was not in danger because they caught on early and arrested him for purchasing M-15 rifles as an agent watched.
Authorities said they began tracking Cornell after he started posting messages on Twitter supporting the Islamic State but they had not mentioned FISA, prompting a reporter to ask whether Boehner knew something they didn’t.
“We will let the whole story roll out there but it was far more than just that,” he said.