Homeland Security

Why Obama can't hide behind congressional restrictions on Gitmo

The Obama administration’s recent announcement that it would restart military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay is a huge disappointment to anyone who values a commitment to due process and the rule of law. The military commissions are a second tier, flawed system of justice that will only produce verdicts highly vulnerable to appellate challenge. 

But nearly two years ago, during a speech at the National Archives, Obama made a similar announcement.  In May 2009, after already pledging to close Guantanamo within one year of taking office, he announced he would use both military commissions and civilian courts to prosecute terrorism suspects. The decision to use the military commission system, even if only in part, was bad then and it is bad now for a variety of reasons.  But it is not new. What is new is the ease with which the administration is willing to hide behind recent congressional restrictions as an excuse for the failure to close Guantanamo and bring more terrorism suspects to justice.


Who wants to be responsible for nuclear terrorism?

Imagine a raging civil war against an autocrat with a history of supporting extreme terrorist acts in a country where nuclear weapons fuel was caught in the crossfire. That would be Libya today if the U.S. had not funded the removal of highly enriched uranium from that country in 2004.

That is why it makes no sense for the Congress to be debating how much to cut the budget for the programs that protect, remove and eliminate these nuclear materials in vulnerable locations around the world. But they are doing it anyway. 

The House wants to cut $600 million, the Senate $300 million. The nuclear nonproliferation budget they are debating is less than $3 billion and about one-third of that is for a new facility being built in South Carolina. So, the squabble is over spending that amounts to just 0.2 percent of the $700 billion in defense expenditures that is currently off limits from any reductions.


Success in the GWOT has made us unsafe

This week’s radicalization hearings called by Congressman Peter King raise one obvious question: what is there left for Capital Hill and the American public to learn as we approach the tenth anniversary of the 2001? The simple answer is: a great deal.

Soon after President Obama assumed office, his very top adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the former CIA official John Brennan, made it very clear that the new administration understands the post-9/11 world very differently from Georg W. Bush’s White House. In a seminal speech he gave at CSIS, Brennan declared a definitive sea-change in national security policy. 


National security is achievable without discrimination

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, we, as Americans, came together in an unprecedented fashion and made vows to our country, our neighbors, and the victims of the heinous attacks. We vowed that we would remain resilient. AND, we recommitted ourselves to respecting religious freedom.

However, there are some people that are disregarding this recommitment to respect religious freedom. This hurts the country’s resiliency. Recently, more and more Americans have almost been conditioned to believe that the majority of people who seek to do us harm are those of Muslim descent. Republicans wants to capitalize on this fear by only holding hearings narrowly focused on the threat posed by foreign jihadist groups and Muslim radicalization.


Using common sense in Muslim radicalization

The House Committee on Homeland Security’s Thursday hearing has a specific, pin-point focus: to examine the threat and extent of radicalization within the American Muslim community. The hearing was an attempt to identify the causes of this radicalization and, by extension, ways which we can, as a country and a people, work to prevent this radicalization from developing at all. It does not calumniate the American Muslim community, slander the Quran, encourage racial profiling, or do any of the other hysterics propagated by its critics. The hearing was clinical and focused.

Radicalization within the American Muslim community is a major threat to American national security. I wish it were not so, but that is the unfortunate reality of our situation. Al Qaeda has developed a continuing and evolving strategy to radicalize American citizens and permanent residents and recruit them to carry out attacks against American families within the United States. 


Threat of homegrown terrorists real and growing

Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” While the media seems to have a strong opinion on this subject, I applaud Chairman King for holding this hearing.
I have known Peter King since my very first day in Congress.  He is a passionate defender of life and liberty. He is frank, candid and asks the tough questions to help keep our nation safe.
Serving on the Homeland Security Committee since 2005, one of the questions I am constantly asked back in East Alabama is “where the next terrorist attack will be?” I have to respond to my constituents with the hard truth that it’s not a matter of if the attack will occur, but when it will happen.


Practicing guilt by association

When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, one of their first acts was to read the Constitution aloud. I thought that was a valuable and important exercise to remind all Members of the words in our nation’s guiding document. On January 6, my friend and colleague Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) took the floor and said: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

That reading of the First Amendment sits in striking contrast to the hearing House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) conducted yesterday. The title of the hearing was the “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response,” but what’s truly radical is using Committee time and resources to profile and demonize an entire community of people based on their faith.


Converting our citizens against the non-believers

“The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response”

Committee on Homeland Security - US House of Representatives

March 10, 2011

Thank you very much for allowing me to come here and tell the country what happened to my son. This hearing today is extremely important to begin the discussion about the issue of Islamic radicalization in America and my hope is that this Committee can somehow address this issue in a meaningful, productive way.

First, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Private William Long, and to the wounded soldier, Quinton Ezeagwula. I would like to talk about those complicit in Private Long’s murder – the Islamic radicals who programmed and trained my son Carlos to kill.


Redefining the moderate Muslim

Testimony M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD

MARCH 10, 2011

"The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and the Community’s Response”

Thank you Chairman King, Ranking member Thompson, Distinguished members of the committee, for seeking my testimony on what I feel is the most important threat to American security in the 21st century, Islamist Radicalization.


Muslim communities vulnerable to radicalization

Testimony of Abdirizak Bihi before the Committee on Homeland Security hearing “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” on March 10, 2011.

Many Somali American families fled from a burning civil war to the refugee camps in neighboring Kenya where killings, gang rape, starvation and civilian mass murdering was common. They waited in those camps for years and years to be rescued by the international community. Many of them, including my sister and her son, Burhan Hassan, were fortunate to have made it safely to the shores of the United States of America.

These lucky families were very good at adapting to life in the U.S. They have found not only peace and safety, but many other valuable opportunities such as employment and free first class education for their children. They also found the ability to build their own communities and start their own businesses, such as Somali malls, community organizations, as well as their own mosques to freely practice their faith.