Homeland Security

Send them to Guantanamo

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in the following speech on the Senate floor Tuesday that the two foreign fighters held by law enforcement in Kentucky who admitted to conducting attacks against U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq should be sent to the secure detention facility at Guantanamo Bay rather than being tried in a federal courtroom in Kentucky.

Since the attacks on 9/11 and the very beginning of the War on Terror in 2001, most Americans have understood that we could no longer passively wait for the next enemy attack.

In order to defeat, dismantle, and disrupt al Qaeda, our intelligence, military and law enforcement officials would have to work together to defeat terrorist cells whether they’re in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan or here in our own backyards.


Deep cuts to homeland security grants put our communities at risk

On Friday, I joined fellow congressman Gus Bilirakis, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communication Subcommittee, in convening a field hearing in Clearwater Florida to hear from the frontlines on emergency management and hurricane response. It was helpful to hear from these hometown heroes and talk to residents of hurricane country.  Together with state and local officials, they emphasized what we already know too well - deep cuts to homeland security grants put our communities at risk. I trust their assessment because they, not Washington officials, are really the ones who respond when disaster strikes.


America's new national security imperative

In the midst of today’s intense discussions about government spending, one reality remains unchanged -- the massive energy demands on our military and defense infrastructure. In an era of constrained national resources and Middle East tensions, these demands have raised a clear national security risk. It’s time to consider how true American energy independence will strengthen our fighting forces and protect our security.

The U.S. Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of energy on the planet. In fact, DOD uses roughly 70 percent of the federal government’s energy needs, costing over $13 billion. Tremendous costs are incurred transporting fuel to protect our troops in the line of duty. Roughly 70 percent of the tonnage shipped by the U.S. Army for battlefield use is fuel. The 24-7 defense needs of our nation rely on defense installations receiving uninterrupted, unthreatened supplies of electricity.

Meanwhile, many of our fossil fuels needed often come regions of the world that are unfriendly to American interests. Other fast-growing nations are developing a need for energy and using the same natural resources the U.S. relies on. We need to innovate how we provide our forces with the energy they needed protect us.


Pentagon inflation indices cost unjustified billions

The Department of Defense (DOD) uses a specially tailored measure of inflation that masks past budget growth and induces Congress to appropriate excess funding for inflation -- inflation that is very unlikely to occur.

The Pentagon budget analysts’ bible, the so-called Green Book, reveals several special, DOD-only, measures of inflation, along with the widely accepted GDP inflation index. While flawed, the GDP measure is used throughout government and the private sector. A comparative analysis of these inflation data in DOD's Green Book reveals many startling things.


Time to rein in the Mideast arms trade

President Obama’s evolving policy towards the rapid changes in the Middle East and North Africa has one glaring omission: a plan to stem the flow of conventional weaponry into the region.From Libya to Syria, and Bahrain to Yemen, imported weaponry has been used to put down nascent pro-democracy movements.
Tracing how those weapons got there and figuring out how best to prevent irresponsible exports to the region going forward should be a priority for U.S. policy. 

In the most egregious cases of armed repression – Libya and Syria – the United States has played little or no role as a supplier. On the other hand, in Bahrain and Yemen, U.S.-supplied arms have bolstered repressive regimes and most likely been used against demonstrators.  


An opportunity to prepare our country's first responders

Several weeks ago the distinguished Chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, offered a stark warning to Congress, “The inability of first responders to communicate with each other was a critical failure on 9/11 … [that caused] needless loss of life.”

The only realistic option for helping prevent a repeat of that horrific experience is for Congress to move quickly on legislation that will enable a national broadband network for emergency services by reallocating a portion of the nation’s radio spectrum, specifically the 10 MHz D Block (758-763 MHz and 788-793 MHz) to public safety. Virtually every first responder organization has endorsed this option, including the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Fire Chiefs.

This public safety broadband network would enable first responders to seamlessly communicate with one another across the country. That is something that has been elusive in the past. There is a path forward before the nation now.


Proposed McKeon and McCain legislation won't make us safer

If there is one thing the operation against Osama bin Laden has shown, it is that the Obama administration does not feel it needs more authority to capture, detain or even kill certain terrorism suspects. Yet, while members of Congress applaud President Obama’s action, legislative proposals greatly expanding this authority are quietly making their way through Congress. 

One bill, introduced by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), is set to be considered this week by the House Armed Services Committee during mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act. Another, introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is set to be marked up in the Senate in June. Both bills would expand who the U.S. says it is at war with and mandate military detention for broadly defined terrorist suspects based on scant evidence. 


The mission that killed bin Laden

I think most Americans are proud that the man who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and then reveled in the horror of that day is dead.

Today we recognize the dedicated work of the many intelligence professionals, law enforcement officials, and the many men and women in our armed services who brought us to this day.

The pursuit of Osama bin Laden spanned more than a decade.


Obama: 'Justice has been done'

President Barack Obama made the following address to the nation about the death of Osama bin Laden.

Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.


MEADS miss the target: Time to decisively move on

In spite of building the best educated acquisition corps ever thanks to the Defense Acquisition University and service certification processes now in full swing, the Pentagon struggles mightily with hitting the acquisition target. Just last week a Pentagon report of the top 95 acquisition programs highlighted  $64 billion in cost overruns and a number of significant program deficiencies or breaches.

Concerns over Pentagon acquisition performance are nothing new and evaluating how well the Pentagon performs is as complicated as any assessment. Or is it? Consider a single question for a program that we can affect today: