Have you ever imagined smuggling a bomb into a federal building? Congress’ investigative arm, the Governmental Accountability Office has. Government investigators not only smuggled bomb components past private security guards and into ten high security federal buildings, they also assembled and transported the bombs throughout the buildings and exited undisturbed. These stunning failures spotlight the continuing vulnerability of even the highest security federal buildings in the nation. It is very possibly the largest hole in our nation' homeland security safety net.
The recently foiled terror plot that uncovered two bombs aboard airplanes headed for Chicago underscores al-Qaeda’s ongoing determination to strike at American targets. How the plot was discovered reflects an equally important reality: Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of Washington’s most important allies in the war on terror, a vital player in the worldwide fight against Islamic extremists.
Saudi Arabia provided the key intelligence that unraveled the plot – from the intent of the bombers to the tracking numbers on the packages. Were it not for that vital Saudi tip, Americans may have experienced the most devastating terrorist attack on its soil since the 9/11 tragedy.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, we have expected extremists to come from “over there.” But recently, the number of incidents involving home-grown Islamic extremists has spiked. While we might instinctively look to the federal government to protect us from enemies, whether foreign or domestic, the solution to this challenge does not lie simply in better policy, better intelligence, or more police officers. The solution for containing domestic radicalization lies in the hands of the American people and the society we create.
For the second time this month, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) has criticized the position of most Republicans and many Americans for favoring enforcement of immigration laws. Rep. Gutierrez uses one of the Democrats’ favorite assertions—that those of us who support enforcement are anti-immigrant. This argument is both ignorant and insulting.
Some Democrats in Congress could benefit from a refresher course on the founding principles of America—namely the rule of law. America is a nation that values and promotes freedom and the inherent rights of all mankind. However, America also is a nation that has established laws and guidelines to promote the common good of our society.
In other words, we are a nation of right and wrong. And part of the role of government is to promote policies that reward those who follow the law and punish those who break it.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 cost us almost 3,000 lives -- and at least a trillion dollars for the continuing wars that followed. To prevent another such attack we have spent untold billions on airport security and reorganized our terrorism defenses within a new and powerful Department of Homeland Security.
One of the last acts of this Democratic Congress on national security proved once again that they just don’t get the urgency to protect our nation against determined enemies.
This is unfortunate, as this week we received another indication of the terrorists’ determination to attack with the release of the latest edition of Inspire, a radical jihadist propaganda magazine that called on its readers to attempt to murder U.S. government employees in restaurants in Washington, D.C. Although the new edition of the magazine was mostly a rehash of familiar terrorist themes, it was an indication that radical jihadists are continuing their efforts to instigate terrorist attacks on the United States.
Today, as the tenth year of the Afghanistan War begins, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars launch a national campaign to stop deployment of wounded soldiers into war zones. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will hold a ceremony for the wounded this morning at Walter Reed Medical Center, then march six miles to Capitol Hill to declare their intentions to end this practice and hold accountable those responsible.
The digital age has been a boon for government surveillance. As cell phones and the Internet have become deeply entwined in our daily lives, more and more personal and proprietary data is being transmitted and stored on digital services. Much of it is readily accessible to government eavesdroppers. The number of wiretaps has been rising over the last 10 years. The National Security Agency is building huge new facilities to store and process everything it collects. Our national security and law enforcement agencies are drowning in information.