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Posted by Randy | April 03, 2014
In November of last year, I asked if you believe the ban should be lifted on Libyans seeking to work in the U.S. in aviation and nuclear fields. Since 93% of you answered ‘no,’ I wanted to share the latest information with you.

In November of 2013, the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees raised concerns about the administration’s plan to lift a longstanding prohibition on Libyans coming to the U.S. to attend flight school, to work in aviation maintenance or flight operations, or to study or seek training in nuclear science. Since that time, the Department of Homeland Security has failed to respond and has instead moved forward with this proposed policy without disclosing information about it to Congress.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security will convene a joint hearing in order to obtain critical information regarding this policy change.

You can watch the hearing, entitled “Overturning 30 Years of Precedent: Is the Administration Ignoring the Dangers of Training Libyan Pilots and Nuclear Scientists?” here.

I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that the national security of the United States is protected.
Posted by Randy | December 19, 2013

The debate regarding the government’s collection of information for national security purposes versus the American peoples’ constitutional right to privacy continues to grow.  First, questions arose as to whether the information was even being collected.  Now, the debate is quickly turning to whether the collection is constitutional.  

This week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia examined the NSA’s collection of telephony metadata, which includes, but is not limited to, the numbers of both parties on a call, along with location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. Metadata does not include the content of the communications.   

Earlier this year, a court order was granted compelling Verizon Communications, Inc., on an “ongoing, daily basis,” to provide the NSA with telephony metadata on its systems.  In response, I joined my colleagues in introducing legislation to require the Attorney General to share all court orders with Congress to provide much needed oversight.

The court held that “because the government can use daily metadata collection to engage in repetitive, surreptitious surveillance of a citizen’s private goings on, the NSA database implicates the Fourth Amendment each time a government monitors it.”  Judge Richard Leon, who wrote the decision, said, “I believe that bulk telephony metadata collection and analysis almost certainly does violate a reasonable expectation of privacy.” 

Question of the week:   Do you believe an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy is violated when the government collects their metadata, along with the metadata of millions of other citizens, without any particularized suspicion that they have done something wrong? 

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know. 
( ) Other (leave your comments below).
 
 
Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | December 04, 2013
During an interview last weekend, the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees both said that they do not believe our nation is safer than it was two years ago.

As they note, groups around the world are growing more hostile toward the United States, and dangerous technology is becoming more readily available to terrorists. In order to combat these threats, we must maintain our technological and innovative advantage, ensuring that we have the resources and tools necessary to keep our law enforcement and the intelligence community safe, so they can keep us secure.

As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) said, “The pressures on our intelligence services to get it right, to prevent an attack, are enormous.” Particularly in a post-9/11 world, the federal government has a responsibility to ensure that the intelligence community is taking appropriate action to root out threats to the security of the American people, but must do so within the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution.

Question of the week: Do you believe that the United States is safer today than it was just 2-3 years ago?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other (leave your comments below).


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | June 21, 2013
Recent news coverage has centered on the story of Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), who recently revealed information regarding a classified program known as PRISM, in which the NSA tapped into the servers of nine leading Internet companies.

Under current law, the NSA has the authority to obtain data from electronic service providers on their customers who reside outside the United States – including e-mail, chat, photos, videos, stored data, and file transfers. To the extent the program captures information pertaining to U.S. citizens, such interception can only be incidental. On June 18th, 2013, NSA Director Keith Alexander testified that the PRISM program helped avert more than 50 “potential terrorist events.”  

The Fourth Amendment provides that, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”  While law enforcement and the intelligence community should have all the resources necessary to combat terrorism, they also must act within the bounds of the Constitution.

Question of the week:  In a post-9/11 world, do you believe that the PRISM program strikes the proper balance between securing our communities and safeguarding liberty?

(  ) Yes.
(  ) No.
(  ) I don’t know.
(  ) Other (leave your comments below).
 
Take the instaPoll here.

Find the results of last week’s instaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | June 07, 2013
Last month, the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice released a report on the Department's mismanagement of the Witness Security Program. It found that that the number of known or suspected terrorists admitted to the program is unknown, that DOJ has lost track of two suspected terrorists in the program, and that critical national security information is not being shared with other agencies.

The report contained sixteen recommendations “to assist the Department in its efforts to include national security considerations when identifying, admitting, monitoring and terminating Witness Protection Program participants who are known or suspected terrorists.”

On Tuesday, the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on the Department of Justice’s handling of known or suspected terrorists admitted into the Witness Security Program, which is designed to protect witnesses and their dependents that are in danger as a result of their agreement to testify for the government in a variety of cases. 

Question of the week:   Do you believe that a systematic lack of information sharing directly affects our national security?

(  ) Yes.
(  ) No.
(  ) I don’t know.
(  ) Other (leave your thoughts below). 


Take the instaPoll here.

Find the results of last week’s instaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | May 03, 2013
Last week, in a letter to Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the White House addressed the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, saying “our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.”  

The United States is calling on the United Nations to conduct a comprehensive investigation, and is working with our allies in the region, as well as the Syrian opposition, in an effort to gain additional intelligence regarding the origins of the weapons and the effect of their use on the nation’s civil war.  

Miguel Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, made it clear in the letter that the use of chemical weapons or transfer of such weapons to a terrorist group “is a red line for the United States of America.”  

Question of the week: If this is a “red line,” what action should the United States take in response to the evidence that Syria used chemical weapons?   

(  ) Intervene now to help end the violence and demonstrate a strong stance against the use of these weapons by Syria and Iran.
(  ) Intervene, if necessary, to defend Israel. 
(  ) Continue to monitor the situation in Syria, including supporting humanitarian aid.
(  ) None.  The United States does not have a national interest in the Syrian conflict. 
(  ) Other (leave your comments below).
 
 
Take the instaPoll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | April 11, 2013
North Korea has been among the most troublesome and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War.  The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with North Korea, and negotiations over its nuclear weapons program have been at the forefront of the national security agendas of the past three administrations.   

U.S. interests in North Korea involve critical security, political, and human rights concerns. American troops occupying U.S. military bases in the Pacific are stationed within known striking distance of North Korean missiles. A conflict on the Korean peninsula or the collapse of the government would have severe implications for both the regional and global economy. Negotiations and diplomacy surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons program necessarily dictate U.S. relations with all the major powers in the region. 

The United States and its allies in the east are now faced with an isolated, authoritarian regime, currently under pressure from transferring power following the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011. Multilateral Six-Party negotiations (made up of China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States) have previously reached some key agreements on aid to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization; however, problems with implementation have persisted and talks have been suspended since 2008. 

After launching a long-range rocket in December of 2012, North Korea conducted a nuclear test in February 2013, and increased its rhetoric against South Korea and the United States to include the threat of pre-emptive nuclear strikes.  

Leadership in North Korea under Kim Jong-un is unpredictable because so little is known about him.  The United States now faces the challenge of navigating a course toward a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue with a potentially rogue actor.

Question of the week:   What should be the response from the United States to the recent actions taken by North Korea?  

(  )       Push North Korea’s best ally and economic lifeline, China, to pressure North Korea to suspend its dangerous and reckless behavior
(  )       Re-engage North Korea diplomatically and encourage them to return to the Six-Party Talks
(  )       Work with South Korea and other regional allies to build a strong deterrent to contain North Korea
(  )       Strengthen our missile defenses to prevent North Korea from being able to threaten our homeland
(  )       Ignore North Korean provocations and assume that they are not a threat to the U.S. and its allies 
(  )       Actively encourage a regime change in North Korea, with the goal of reunifying the Peninsula under a Democratic government.     
(  )       Other (leave your comments below).
 
Take the poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here
Posted by Randy | March 15, 2013

Last month, a memo was leaked outlining the White House Administration’s policy of targeted killings of U.S. citizens overseas. Since that time, questions have been raised about the constitutionality of the policy and whether it could also be used against a U.S. citizen here in America. 

According to the memo, where the target is a U.S. citizen who is a “senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force” and is located in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities, lethal force would be lawful if:

  • An informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
  • Capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and
  • The operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.

The guarantee of due process is affirmed twice in the United States Constitution: The Fifth Amendment states that “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and the Fourteenth Amendment further states that “Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Attorney General Eric Holder stated that due process “does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.”  Others, like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) warned against not only the targeting of American citizens without first providing due process, but doing so on American soil.  Senior Members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the Committee be granted the opportunity to review all documents pertaining to the legal justification of drone strikes on Americans abroad.   The administration released these memos to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees; however, it refused to provide them to the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with oversight of the Justice Department and the U.S. Constitution.

Question of the week: Should the United States government have the ability to use a drone to take the life of a U.S. citizen located in a foreign country who is a “senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force” without due process of law?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other (leave your comments below).


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here
Posted by Randy | October 23, 2012
America’s Navy now stands at 285 ships, the smallest Navy since 1917 when measuring fleet size in terms of number of ships.   Over the past decade the Navy has called for and planned towards a variety of different shipbuilding plans, all of which are larger than the roughly 300-ship Navy the President now says we need. For instance, in 2002 the Navy put forward a goal for a fleet size of 375 ships and since 2006 it has been pursuing a goal of 313 ships. Furthermore, a bi-partisan panel of defense experts concluded in 2010 that a fleet of approximately 350- ships was necessary to meet America's security demands.

Today's ships are most certainly more technologically-capable than they were in the early 20th century, but numbers still matter. A ship can still only be in one place at one time and demand for Navy assets continues to grow. Between 2007 and 2012, for instance, the demand for ships has increased from 20,068 operational days to 32,915 days.

Perhaps most importantly, the small size of the fleet has serious implications for our sailors and their families. Despite a requirement for Navy ships to be deployed for six months, deployments of seven months or more have become regular occurrences. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, has publicly stated that "we can’t run at that rate,” but admitted that seven to seven-and-a-half month deployments will become the new norm because of the increased demands on our fleet. These longer deployments also threaten to wear out the fleet before the end of its intended service life, driving up maintenance costs or forcing ships back to sea with low readiness levels.

Read more about Congressman Forbes’ position on this topic, especially as it relates to US presence in the Asia-Pacific realm, in his piece in the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings, “Rebalancing the Rhetoric,” here.

Question of the Week: 
What do you believe are the most serious negative impacts of having a Navy that is at its smallest size since 1917? (Multi-Answer)

( ) Greater stresses on our sailors and their families.
( ) The Navy can be fewer places and do fewer things, even though demand for Navy ships is increasing.
( ) Longer deployments and more maintenance costs for the fleet and the taxpayer.
( ) None. Our Navy is more capable than it was a century ago.
( ) Other – (Share your thoughts below).

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 20, 2012

Tragically, on September 11th in Benghazi, Libya, the United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were murdered. This was the first U.S. Ambassador who had been murdered since 1979.  

These deaths occurred amidst angry and sometimes violent anti-American protests near U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East in the countries like Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia.  In some cases, protesters were burning American flags and effigies of President Obama.

( ) Tether foreign aid to pro-democracy, religious freedoms and human rights benchmarks

( ) Reduce or eliminate foreign aid

( ) Sever diplomatic ties and/or remove embassy staffs

( ) Bolster embassy security with elite Marine units

( ) Continue engagement with these foreign governments to combat terrorism and promote democracy.   

( ) I don't know.

( ) Other. (Please share your comments and ideas on my blog below).

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.