Posted by Randy | September 09, 2011
Our military faces a strained force and looming defense cuts that will impact its basic ability to provide for the common defense.
This video Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon highlights this serious issue and its potential impact on our national security. In the video, Chairman McKeon asks “what if we’re attacked in some other area, what is our military going to be able to do if we keep cutting it…”
Posted by Randy | August 08, 2011
This weekend we received the tragic news of the death of 30 Americans who were killed when a U.S. helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan. The attack marked the deadliest day for Americans in the war in Afghanistan. Twenty-two of the troops were reportedly from a specialized Navy SEAL Unit based in Virginia Beach.
We grieve the loss of these valiant Americans and honor the sacrifice they made while on a mission to rescue fellow servicemen and women. Their courage in advancing the cause of freedom was exemplary and it will not be forgotten. Our prayers continue to be with the families of these service members who will feel the absence of their loved ones long after the news stories have ended. We pray they find peace.
Posted by Randy | August 02, 2011
Deep defense cuts would be “extraordinarily difficult and very high risk.” That is what General Martin Dempsey, Army Chief of Staff and President Obama's nominee to serve as the nation's chief military officer, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Administration has proposed bringing significant cutbacks to our nation’s military strength. But a defense budget in decline will undermine our ability to project power, strengthen our adversaries, and weaken our alliances.
I have developed “Defense Cuts: A Very High Risk,” a booklet to outline the current status of our national defense, the threats we face, and the proposed cuts to our military. It is my hope that this booklet will assist policy makers and interested individuals in understanding the severe impact defense cuts will have on our national security.
Posted by Randy | July 26, 2011
These charts highlight the shrinking state of readiness and the subsequent dire choices our nation's commanders are being forced to consider, issues that we are discussing in today’s House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee hearing with the service vice chiefs of staff.
Overlay these charts with the fact that President Obama has announced plans to cut a jaw-dropping $400 billion from the defense budget over a 12-year period, and the picture of our future readiness is grim. The United States is walking down a path where we eventually will not be ready as a nation to protect ourselves against future threats.
Posted by Randy | July 12, 2011
Consider the following…
On average, Navy deployed ships are forced to spend nearly 40% of their time with at least one major equipment or systems failure.
Over one-half of our currently deployed aircraft are not combat ready.
There is a stark dichotomy that emerges when assessing the readiness of the United States Navy: on the one hand, we continue to boast the finest Naval fleet in the world while at the same time, we continue to learn more and more about the alarming shortfalls in the maintenance and future investment in our own defense capabilities.
Posted by Randy | July 08, 2011
We face a harsh reality that runaway government spending on bailout and stimulus packages has brought us to a point where we are considering cutting the national defense capabilities of our country. But before making any cuts in defense spending, Congress must first understand the nation's security risks. That’s what I discussed today on the House floor during debate of the annual Department of Defense Appropriations bill. Watch my full remarks in the video below.
Also, read about my efforts to ensure a clean financial audit of the Department of Defense’s basic functions so we know where defense dollars are going and that they are properly accounted for. You can also read my statement on today's vote here.
Posted by Randy | July 07, 2011
The Obama Administration will prosecute a Somali accused of ties to two Islamist militant groups in civilian court in New York, according to an article in the New York Times. Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was charged with nine counts related to accusations that he provided support to the Shabab in Somalia and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen.
You can read the full article here.
I have long said that transferring terrorist detainees to America for trial is not in the best interest of the United States and the War on Terror. Congress as a whole has spoken many times about this issue, making clear that the transfer of terrorists to U.S. soil must be prevented. In fact, Section 1039 of the House-passed FY 2012 NDAA would explicitly prohibit these types of transfers to the United States. Last year, my motion to prevent the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States passed the House of Representatives.
The Administration’s action in bringing Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame to civilian court in New York squarely contradicts Congress and the will of the American people on this issue, and it is unacceptable.
I want to know what you think. Do you believe terrorist detainees should be brought to the U.S. for trial? Are you concerned that the Administration is contradicting Congress and the will of the American people on this issue?
Posted by Randy | June 21, 2011
In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that under current law, immigrants who had been admitted to the United States and then ordered to be removed, often for criminal reasons, could not be detained in the U.S. for more than six months. Then, in 2005 in the case of Clark v. Martinez, the Supreme Court expanded its 2001 decision to apply to illegal immigrants.
Unfortunately, not every criminal immigrant who is ordered to be removed can be. Many countries are unwilling to issue travel documents necessary for these individuals to return to their countries, especially for those individuals who have committed a crime.
As a result, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security have had no choice but to release thousands of criminal immigrants into American communities. In the last two years alone, close to 10,000 immigrants with orders of removal were released because their own countries refused to take them back, including rapists, murderers and other dangerous criminals.
There is simply no reason an arbitrary six-month limit should put our communities and families at risk.
Just last week, I cosponsored the Keep Our Communities Safe Act to allow the DHS to detain dangerous criminal immigrants beyond six months. The bill would allow the detentions for criminal immigrants who are under orders of removal but cannot be deported, as long as certain conditions are met, such as if the immigrant is an aggravated felon, has committed a crime of violence, or is a threat to national security.
One of the most fundamental obligations of the federal government is to protect its citizens. There is no reason to leave uncorrected a law that forces the release of some of the most dangerous criminals in federal custody.
Read more about the Keep Our Communities Safe Act here.
I want to know what you think. Is it important that we correct a law that forces the release of criminals into American communities?
Posted by Randy | June 14, 2011
In December 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national who was issued a visa in July 2008, attempted to blow up a plane en route to Detroit on Christmas Day. Although Abdulmutallab’s father had expressed concerns of his son’s radicalism, U.S. authorities failed to revoke his visa. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a citizen of Saudi Arabia was admitted to the United States in 2008 on a student visa. He was later charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device and his research of potential U.S. targets.
What do both these terrorists have in common? They used loopholes in the U.S. visa process to enter the United States legally with a shared intention of committing acts of terror against the United States. With a stricter visa system, these recent attempts of terrorism could have likely been prevented.
That is why I am cosponsoring the Secure Visas Act, which prevents terrorists from obtaining U.S. visas and allows U.S. officials to expedite the removal of terrorists who are in the United States on visas. In addition to authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to refuse or revoke visas when necessary for U.S. national security interests, this bill enhances visa security by mandating that the Department of Homeland Security maintain Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Visa Security Units (VSUs) at the 19 posts that currently have them, while also expanding units to the numerous posts that ICE has designated as “highest-risk” countries—including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon and Algeria. VSUs are essential for national security because at VSU posts, 100% of applicants receive close additional screening, compared to only 2% of applicants that receive extra screening at non-VSU posts.
Join the discussion -do you support reforming the visa process to prevent future acts of terrorism?
Posted by Randy | May 26, 2011
Rep. Steve King outlines the key provisions up for reauthorization in the Patriot Act in an opinion piece in this morning’s Politico. Take a look and weigh in with your thoughts:
By: Rep. Steve King
May 26, 2011 09:08 AM EDT
Since bursting onto the political scene in 2009, the tea party movement has sparked a renewed appreciation for the Constitution’s restraints on the powers of the federal government. Washington’s authority is not boundless. Rather, our Constitution establishes a strong, but limited, national government.
As Congress takes up legislation to reauthorize three expiring parts of the Patriot Act, it should take seriously the tea party’s commitment to constitutional fidelity.
Judged by that standard, Patriot passes with flying colors. It just lets counterterrorism agents use some of the same tools that regular cops have used for decades. These tools have exacting safeguards to protect civil liberties, and federal courts have consistently upheld their constitutionality.
Take, for example, “roving wiretaps.”
Mobsters, terrorists and other sophisticated criminals sometimes try to thwart surveillance by repeatedly switching cell phones. The result is a drawn-out game of cat and mouse. Investigators get a court order to tap a suspect’s phone, only to find out he’s already switched to a new one. So it’s back to the judge for a fresh warrant.
Congress solved this problem for criminal cases decades ago. A 1986 law allows judges to issue wiretap orders that apply to specific people, instead of particular devices. That means agents can track a criminal — regardless of what phone he’s using — without heading back to court.
The act allows the same thing in terrorism cases. The basic idea is to level the playing field. If a roving wiretap is good enough for Tony Soprano, it’s good enough for Mohamed Atta.
Patriot contains robust protections for civil liberties. The court order is necessary: FBI agents can’t start eavesdropping on their own, they need a judge’s permission. They also have to prove the suspect is an “agent of a foreign power” – a spy or terrorist. And they must notify the judge every time they go up on a new phone.
Federal courts unanimously agree that roving wiretaps are constitutional. One case emphasized that there is “virtually no possibility of abuse or mistake.” Another concluded that “[r]oving wiretaps are an appropriate tool to investigate individuals … who use cloned cellular phone numbers and change numbers frequently to avoid detection.” The Patriot Act stands on a solid constitutional foundation.
Next, consider the act’s “business records” provision.
In criminal cases, grand juries often issue document subpoenas to businesses, like credit card companies and online retailers. The Patriot Act lets agents get the same records in terrorism cases.
The act’s civil liberties protections are actually stronger than those for law enforcement.
Prosecutors can issue grand jury subpoenas essentially on their own, but the Patriot Act requires the FBI to get a judge’s approval first. The act also bars the government from investigating Americans “solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment.” And it imposes special limits when investigators seek sensitive materials, like medical records and library documents. The grand jury rules offer no such guarantees.
The underlying constitutional principles have been settled for decades. A long line of case law confirms that investigators may obtain records from businesses without a warrant or probable cause. This is so, the Supreme Court explained in 1979, because “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”
Finally, there’s the “lone wolf” provision — for terrorists whose ties to overseas groups may be a bit murky.
The FBI faced exactly this predicament before 9/11. Agents suspected that Zacarias Moussaoui – then in custody on immigration charges – was a terrorist. But they hadn’t yet connected him to Al Qaeda, so it was unclear whether they could search his apartment or laptop. The 9/11 Commission later speculated that, if agents had investigated Moussaoui more fully, they might have unraveled the entire Sept. 11 plot.
The Patriot Act fixes this problem. It allows investigators to apply for a court order to monitor a suspected terrorist — even if they haven’t yet found enough evidence to prove he’s a member of a foreign terrorist organization.
Again, the Patriot Act makes it a priority to protect civil liberties. Agents have to convince a judge to let them investigate and follow a lone wolf. This tool can only be used to investigate international terrorism, not domestic terrorism. And “lone wolf” doesn’t apply to Americans. It applies only to temporary visitors – like tourists or students.
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted to renew these three provisions, which are set to expire on May 27. We hope the rest of Congress quickly follows suit. Osama bin Laden is dead, but Al Qaeda is still very much alive.
This is no time to go wobbly in the war on terror.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law of the House Judiciary Committee. Nathan A. Sales helped write the Patriot Act while serving at the Justice Department. He is now a law professor at George Mason University.
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