Late last month, in his drive to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over Operation Fast and Furious, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) inserted material from a sealed wiretap warrant application into the Congressional Record. Information contained in such applications cannot be released absent a court’s permission, and those who violate the law can be held in contempt. But by placing the information in the Congressional Record — rather than directly releasing it to journalists — Rep. Issa shielded his otherwise illegal conduct behind the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.
As an Arab American, a Christian, and a former U.S. Ambassador who has been targeted by al Qaeda while serving my country, I am appalled and dismayed by the recent letters of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four of her colleagues, Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).
These letters to the Deputy Inspector General of the State Department unveil a phobia against Arabs, Muslims and the Islamic religion, rather than factual claims that point to any conspiracy to infiltrate the halls of our government agencies. They recklessly allege that certain federal employees have been influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
These allegations are from a widely discredited organization whose only purpose can be to harm individuals for their ethnic or religious identity. I thought this kind of hysteria, which she and her colleagues are promoting, ended during the Joseph McCarthy era. Now it looks like it is alive and well with the likes of Congresswoman Bachmann.
The information sources quoted in their letters are more associated with anti-Muslim sentiment than real national security claims. Even the FBI considered the claims made by their sources as “unsubstantiated” and “outdated”. Other investigations have found the claims by the principals associated with the information contained in their letters “reprehensible, baseless, false and unfounded”.
This week, the House will pass legislation to fund our military operations for fiscal year 2013. In total, the bill provides $519.2 billion in base funding and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for Defense activities related to the Global War on Terror. This funding is critical to ensuring our troops around the globe remain the best-equipped fighting force in the world.
President Obama began his announcement in the Rose Garden talking about undocumented youth or “DREAMers.” “They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.” He talked about how they been here most of their lives, done everything right, worked hard, even graduated at the top of their classes, all to be deported to a country whose language they may not even speak. “Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is moving to lift this shadow from their lives.”
Most Americans agree that as a sovereign nation we should have a safe and secure border, both in the north with Canada and in the south with Mexico. While we have made strides over the past 10 years to improve security, serious vulnerabilities remain.
Federally managed land located throughout the southern U.S. border has become a haven of criminal activity. The areas with the highest presence of traffickers and smugglers are typically those where the U.S. Border Patrol is unable to maintain a routine presence. This is due to land management policies that restrict access. To enable the U.S. Border Patrol to overcome literal and figurative roadblocks that prevent them from securing the entire border, I introduced the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. This legislation allows the Border Patrol to waive certain environmental restrictions only on federal land. The House is expected to consider this legislation on today (June 19) as part of the 14-bill House Natural Resources legislative package.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that encourages the voluntary sharing of cyber threat and vulnerability information between the private sector and the federal government. The Senate is now considering which cyber legislation it should take up. However, not enough Senators have coalesced around a bill for it to succeed on a cloture vote – and action is needed to protect our critical infrastructure.
The House bill is a good first step to improving the nation’s level of cyber security. But the cyber intrusions into natural gas pipeline company computer networks that were publicized last week demonstrate the inadequacy of the House’s voluntary sharing approach. The intrusions began in December 2011, but there were only identified this March. In an era of light speed attacks, that was far too long. Systems could have been disrupted or damaged long before other companies knew what the threat was.
As we approach Memorial Day, I am reminded of our soldiers’ 237-year history of fortitude and resolve to meet the needs of the nation. American soldiers have always answered the call to duty, despite challenge, sacrifice and hardship. I have no doubt that they will continue this tradition of excellence, empowered by their professional ethos and the support of a grateful nation.
One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is the chance to meet with the military family.
Though the U.S. Navy is made up of ships, submarines and aircraft, its true strength lies in the skill and dedication of its people. As the chief of naval operations, it is my honor to lead the 625,000 active and reserve sailors and civilians who propel the Navy forward and protect our nation’s security and prosperity. As we prepare to mark this Memorial Day, it is a privilege to recognize the service and sacrifices of your American sailors and their families.