Homeland Security

Zero Dark Thirty: Good movie, bad facts

I just finished watching “Zero Dark Thirty.” It’s pretty brutal. Not plucking someone’s eye out brutal, but definitely not “enhanced interrogation technique” euphemism level either. Some of the torture portrayed in the movie is low-grade violence against restrained prisoners – slapping and roughing up, a lot of stress positions (arms tied spread eagle with ropes so that the prisoner can’t lower them or move them), and a waterboarding scene where the detainee is choking up water and spit.
Maybe the most horrible (although least graphic) form of torture is when the characters fold a prisoner up into a tiny confinement box and shut the lid on him.


President Obama must veto defense bill to close Gitmo

As we gather to celebrate the holidays this year, President Obama will determine with the stroke of a pen the fate of more than a hundred men held without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay. The National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill that directs how the Pentagon may use its funds, will likely make its way to the Oval Office with renewed restrictions on transferring detainees to any country regardless of the allegations against them. If President Obama signs the restrictions into law, the human consequences will be severe and forever damage his legacy.


Keeping our children safe

This afternoon, the families of Newtown, Connecticut are burying two six-year-old boys – Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto.
Noah turned six last month. Jack was a New York Giants fan.
In the days to come, many of their classmates will also be laid to rest – the victims of a tragedy too terrible to comprehend.
Twenty little girls and boys. Twenty tiny daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, friends and playmates.
Twenty children, who will never grow up and learn to drive, go on a first date or graduate from high school.
Twenty six- and seven-year-olds who will never have the chance to fall in love, get married or have children of their own.
Noah and Jack, Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Allison and Avielle.


Massacre at Sandy Hook has shattered our hearts

I want to start by extending my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of Friday’s massacre, and to the whole community, and to thank the first responders and all those who are helping in the aftermath of this darkest of tragedies.
Three days after the horrors of Newtown, we’re all still reeling from what happened. Any time there’s a shooting like this we’re crushed with sorrow, but there’s no escaping the fact that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary stands out for its awfulness. The murder of so many little children and the adults who tried to save them doesn’t just break our hearts, it shatters them.
The last few days have been searing for all of us, and the days ahead will be too.


There's no 1 answer, but the path is apparent

When a tragedy strikes, it is human nature for us to ask, "Why?" And in the next breath, we wonder, "What can be done so this never will happen again?"
Those certainly were among my thoughts Friday when I heard that someone had burst into an elementary school in Connecticut and murdered 26 people. Among them were 20 young children -- children who were there to learn about their world and to develop friendships.

This time it was in Connecticut. Before that it was in Portland, Ore., and Aurora, Colo., and Milwaukee and at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech.
And in Tucson.

On Friday, as I watched television, I saw the looks on the faces of those parents in Connecticut. And I wished I had the answer that could stop all of this and make sure it never happens again.


Our gun laws are part of the problem

When a man kills twenty children and seven others for no reason other than his own demons, the immediate human response is the same anywhere: deep pain, grief, anger and frustration. In the United States, unfortunately, such a tragedy carries an added weight because it is not unique.
Last Friday will live in our collective memory, just as Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Tucson and the numerous other mass killings we have endured will live in our memory. We have become a nation overly acquainted with shock and grief.


I will be silent no longer

Last Friday's incomprehensible tragedy in Connecticut requires every citizen, and certainly every public official, to reflect on our responsibilities to our fellow citizens, because what happened to so many innocent and helpless children and courageous educators in Newtown can happen in any of our towns to any of our neighbors.
I have been largely silent on the issue of gun violence over the past six years, and I am now as sorry for that as I am for what happened to the families who lost so much in this most recent, but sadly not isolated, tragedy.


Review of A123 sale critical to national interest

The United States is once again facing the risk of a U.S. born and bred company falling into the hands of a foreign competitor, and this time with significant implications for our national interests. Massachusetts-based A123 Systems is a leader in advanced battery technologies for hybrid vehicles and energy storage, and a major supplier to our military and national energy industry. Its forthcoming sale – potentially to a Chinese company – may put our national and economic security at risk unless the Obama Administration takes immediate action to protect it. 
A123 Systems was born in the American tradition of innovation: the company was the brainchild of an entrepreneur and an MIT scientist who joined forces to make critical advances in energy technology. The company has developed essential – and sensitive – technology that is used in several applications for the U.S. Defense Department. While the company has reached a tentative agreement that would keep its technology in U.S. hands, a Chinese company, Wanxiang, is pressing to top that offer in order to gain control of this key intellectual property.


FISA needs oversight, amendment before reauthorization

To watch the Senate floor, you’d never guess that we are just weeks away from the sunset of the FISA Amendments Act – the expansive law that authorized warrantless wiretapping.

While the House passed a five-year extension earlier this fall, the Senate has yet to debate an extension, consider amendments or hold a vote. The list of ‘must-do’ items is long, but making sure the FISA amendments get a meaningful debate and amendment process must be a priority.


Recognizing the important contributions of immigrants

As is widely known, the United States has the strongest defense program in the world. Our military, Air Force, Navy and space program are unparalleled and our long-standing commitment to scientific and technological innovation in these areas has led to American leadership and success around the world. Crucial to this leading edge are the scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technology specialists (otherwise known as STEM) who work every day to make sure our national security interests are never threatened.