Homeland Security

We must adapt to al-Qaeda (Rep. Pete King)

In some respects, the recent attempted Times Square car bombing and the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized citizen, point to a significant success in America’s Global War on Terror.

In the aftermath of 9/11, our government quickly reformed the Intelligence Community and established the Department of Homeland Security, moves which have been successful in making it more difficult for foreign terrorists to enter the country and carry out attacks. U.S. military action has weakened al-Qaeda Central.

But this has also created a new challenge: the battlefront has shifted from overseas to our homeland.

Al-Qaeda has determined that it can achieve its jihadist agenda more easily by recruiting operatives from within the U.S. (citizens, in some cases)—those who have no longstanding previous ties to Islamic jihadism or international terror organizations. Thus, they are often below the radar of intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Consider just a few of the more recent cases. Shahzad is a U.S. citizen. Najibullah Zazi, who has pled guilty to conspiring to blow up the NYC subway system, was a legal permanent resident. U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, was a Virginia-born citizen.

Unfortunately, this adaptation by al-Qaeda means that we must adapt as well.

The fact that terrorists are in the U.S. legally is a game-changer that makes it more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify, monitor and preempt future attacks. It is more difficult to get advance notice of other pending attacks. It is more difficult to determine where those attacks might originate.

But there are actions that the Obama Administration can take to ease this difficulty.

First, we should treat terror suspects as enemy combatants and not as criminal defendants.  Sadly, the Obama Administration insists on defaulting to the civilian criminal court system as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, we can—and should—change the way we issue Miranda warnings to ensure we treat terrorists as we should treat terrorists and not as we would bank robbers. After Shahzad was arrested trying to flee the country, I said that despite the fact that he was a U.S. citizen, law enforcement and intelligence officers should gather as much intelligence from him as possible. I was roundly criticized by the liberal left.

Within days, we learned that law enforcement officials were, indeed, taking advantage of the public safety, or “ticking time bomb,” exception to the Miranda requirement and interrogating him before informing him of his “right to remain silent.”

Then we learned, via Attorney General Eric Holder, that the Obama Administration is considering “modifying the rules that interrogators have” when terror suspects are brought into custody here on U.S. soil. I welcome the Attorney General’s realization that we have to adapt to al-Qaeda’s new type of terrorist.

Additionally, the next time that law enforcement officials capture a terrorist in our homeland, Holder’s Department of Justice should consult the Director of National Intelligence and others in the Intelligence Community before giving any Miranda warning. This coordination, which has apparently not been taking place, would provide interrogators with the information they need to ask the right questions and save lives.

By now focusing on recruiting Americans and legal U.S. residents, al-Qaeda has shifted in the methods it uses in its effort to destroy our nation. Now, the Obama Administration must make a critical shift, as well, in the methods it uses to ensure that our nation defeats our enemy.

Cross-posted from the Heritage Foundation


Increased border security is the right move (Sen. Tom Udall)

Today's announcement from President Obama is welcome news for New Mexico and other border states that are struggling to ensure the safety of border residents in the face of increasingly violent trafficking organizations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This additional funding and manpower will give the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol – who often are forced to operate with too few staff and limited supplies – expanded resources to more effectively monitor our nation's borders and keep New Mexicans safe and secure.

But I want to be clear. While these new resources are a welcome step to alleviate this dire situation, they in no way replace the need for a comprehensive solution to secure our borders while respecting America's legacy as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.

I look forward to working with President Obama and my colleagues in the Senate to develop a policy that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders.


Will START treaty weaken U.S. missile defense? Sen. Kerry seems to hope so (Sen. Jim DeMint)

At today’s Senate Foreign Relations hearing on the START Treaty (a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms pact) that President Obama is seeking Congressional approval for, I asked Senator Kerry a simple question. Should it be the goal of the U.S. to have a missile defense system that renders nuclear threats by other nations useless, including Russia? To my disappointment, but not surprisingly, Senator Kerry said no.

And with his response, Senator Kerry proved why Americans have a hard time fully trusting the left to put American interests first in foreign affairs. While the goal of reducing global levels of nuclear weapons is noble, it cannot take priority over our duty to protect Americans.


The Big Question: Does the U.S. need a terror watch list gun ban?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news story burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Should people on the federal terrorism watch list be blocked from buying firearms and explosives? Why or why not?

Background reading here.


Obama understands post-Cold War world (Sen. John Kerry)

The result of President Obama’s steely-eyed thinking in his Nuclear Posture Review is a substantive statement that maintains our nuclear deterrence while addressing the new security challenges we face. Finally, America’s nuclear policy reflects post-Cold War reality.

The challenge was to reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons, both for our security and to prove to that the United States is serious about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, without diluting America’s strategic deterrent one iota. For the first time, preventing nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation correctly top America’s nuclear agenda. No longer do we couch our posture review with deliberate ambiguity. We affirmatively state that we will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that are signatories to and in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. At the same time, we make clear that we will meet a chemical or biological weapons threat with “a devastating conventional military response.

It’s clear that with this report, the new START Treaty, and this year’s budget proposal to increase funding for nuclear scientific research and the strengthening of our nuclear infrastructure, the President is strengthening our national security to meet today’s most pressing threats, not Cold War phantoms.  The American people and our allies will be safer as a result.” 


Nuclear posture review a step towards non-proliferation (Speaker Nancy Pelosi)

Today, the Obama Administration took another critical step forward in the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.  With this updated policy in place, the United States will continue to lead the global non-proliferation movement and build a future defined by peace and security for all nations.

This announcement sets an example for countries across the globe.  It aims to reduce the size of our nuclear arsenal and halt the expansion of nuclear states.  In an age of new threats, this policy works to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of terrorists committed to our destruction.  And it ensures that we sustain an effective nuclear deterrent, maintain our nuclear advantage, and reassure our allies and partners.

 I applaud President Obama, Secretaries Gates and Clinton, and America’s national security leaders for their work on the Nuclear Posture Review and, as the President said last year in Prague, for standing together ‘for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century.


The Big Question: How is Obama doing on national security?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news story burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

How is the Obama administration handling national security?


The Big Question: Should KSM be tried in a military courtroom?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.


Today's question:

Should the White House change its stance and hold military trials for the Sept. 11 suspects?

Why or why not?

(Read today's answers after the jump.)