Jim Kouri
Lawmakers release plan to strengthen U.S. security
By Jim Kouri
January 12, 2010

As President Barack Obama struggles with the national security and political failures of his administration — especially the failures of a security team that includes Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Obama's homeland security advisor John Brennan — members of the U.S. Congress are voicing their skepticism of the president's future plans.

The top Republicans on the House Intelligence, Armed Services and Homeland Security committees outlined four steps that the Obama administration should take immediately to help improve American security in the wake of a terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound aircraft, the multiple killings at a US military installation in Texas, and the continued push to adjudicate terrorism cases in civilian courts.‪

"I am concerned that we did not act quickly enough after the Fort Hood incident to fix problems in our national security systems," said Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. "We need to take immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent another attack. Foreigners should not be given the presumption of the right to freely enter the United States. We also need to stop giving protections to Americans who treasonously associate with al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups that attack our nation and its citizens."‪

"As our nation witnessed on Christmas Day, we continue to face a dedicated enemy committed to killing our citizens and destroying our country. This threat does not exist in any one nation or have a single face — it is global, multi-faceted and constantly evolving. It seeks out ungoverned spots around the globe from which to operate; places like those found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

According to U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, "As Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to acknowledge several days after the Christmas Day attack, our system did not work in this instance. We got lucky. We need to take a hard look to understand exactly what went wrong and how to actively prevent future attacks. The safety and security of Americans should not depend on 'luck.'"

Among the steps outlined by Hoekstra, King and McKeon, they believe the administration should:‪‪

1. Revise current rules and criteria that excessively limit who can be placed on the no-fly list and selector lists and make certain that the government acts aggressively to ensure that all travelers that are the subject of intelligence reports receive full scrutiny. Overly restrictive and legalistic rules and bureaucracy appear to have kept the Christmas bomber off the no-fly and selectee lists. We cannot risk allowing this to happen again. Tentative steps by the administration to add more suspects to the list help, but have not fundamentally changed the problematic rules;

2. Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers that have raised significant obstacles for the US military and intelligence community in aggressively pursuing Americans abroad such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Adam Gadahn who have treasonously joined or assisted terrorist groups;

3. Charge all jihadist attackers as enemy combatants to be taken into military custody, interrogated for vital intelligence and tried in military courts under the laws of armed conflict; and

4. Immediately stop all transfers of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Former Guantanamo detainees are leading the threat to America from al-Qaeda in Yemen; it is foolhardy to send them reinforcements.

"Jihadists have shown time and again that they are willing to exploit our laws to carry out their attacks," Hoekstra said. "These steps must be pursued immediately to help reduce the ongoing terrorist risk that we face in our homeland. It's time to stop lawyering-up the fight against terrorism and start pursuing necessary steps to help secure America."

"The Administration should cease all detainee transfers from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Yemen and conduct a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures for releasing or transferring a terrorist detainee from Guantanamo to another country. The remaining detainee population in Guantanamo consists of the most hardened, irreconcilable combatants. Recidivism rates of terrorists previously detained at Guantanamo is on the rise; and placing our trust and security in the hands of countries such as Yemen that are already under siege by al-Qaeda only invites more risk to our safety," stated McKeon.

"There is an emerging pattern here by the Obama Administration of not recognizing we are in a war against Islamic terrorism. I urge the president to take strong and immediate action to ensure that our planes are safe from terrorists," King said.

"In addition, Abdulmutallab should be tried in a military court and should not be given the constitutional rights afforded to all Americans. The Administration's law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism is dangerous, and I hope that the Christmas Day attack is a wake-up call," King added.

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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