At this point in history the most significant threats to our citizens do not come from powerful states, but from clandestine terrorist groups, failed states, and the efforts of new nations to acquire nuclear weapons. We must develop a strategy to overcome terrorists through a combination of superior military capability and cooperation with the entire international community to fight the root causes of terrorism.
Our foreign policy has been hijacked by fears resulting from the terrible attacks on 9/11. Terrorists must be dealt with harshly and without compromise or negotiation. However, our foreign policy needs to be guided by a rational assessment of what actions will result in a more secure homeland. Pre-emptive war should never be necessary. The credibility of our nation is now in grave doubt when making claims of terrorist threat or weapons of mass destruction. Our current policies are putting us on the path of becoming alone and isolated in an increasingly dangerous and hostile world. We should base our requests for international involvement upon genuine ongoing cooperation with the other democratic nations of the world. The UN should be asked to manage the Iraq oil reserves and reconstruction contracts.
The Unites States can regain our moral leadership in the world by not only depending on a strong military, but by demanding human rights, an end to genocide, and workplace and environmental safeguards in international trade agreements. We can lead the world by force of ideas, not by military strength alone.
On the home front we need to have homeland security policies that make sense. Currently the per-capita funding for homeland security is higher in American Samoa than it is for Washington DC. We need to change the provision that guarantees homeland security funding for every state. This only leads to wasted spending on pet projects that have little to nothing to do with homeland security.
At the Transportation Security Agency we need commonsense policies that are not confusing to the traveling public, ensure the safety of those traveling and protect the flight crews of our nation's airlines. For example; the TSA recently revised rules that changed which carry-on items were permitted onto a plane. We need to heed the lessons of 9/11 and continue to prevent the carrying on of scissors and miscellaneous tools (such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers). There is no need to have these objects brought into the passenger compartment where they may be used as weapons.
NSA Wiretapping / Patriot Act
As Americans we were shocked and saddened by the tragic of September 11 th. My first and most powerful emotion was a solemn resolve to stop these terrorists. My own son sought and received a commission in the armed forces in response to the events of that day. To this day my resolve to stop these terrorists remains my principle reaction to the events of 9/11.
Ensuring the safety of the American people is a solemn duty of Congress; we must work tirelessly to prevent more tragedies like the devastating attacks of September 11th. But we must exercise cautious and thoughtful restraint in our response, ensuring that in our pursuit of justice we do not compromise the principles that our country was founded upon.
Warrantless wiretapping. The reported massive NSA database of Americans' phone calls. The arrogance and abuse of power by the Office of the President should concern all Americans. The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of Congress has found that many of the administration's legal arguments have conflicted with existing U.S. laws.Congress fulfills its promise when it protects the people and the rights guaranteed under our Constitution. Congress must perform its duty and work to correct the excesses of the hastily enacted PATRIOT Act.
I support the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to pass the Security and Freedom Ensured Act, S.1709 (SAFE). SAFE aims to protect Americans' civil liberties by making modest but important changes to several of PATRIOT's most troublesome provisions. Specifically, SAFE:
* Limits the use of "John Doe roving" wiretaps.
* Limits the use of secret "sneak & peek" searches.
* Protects Americans' sensitive, personal information from government access without justification.
* Prevents the government from accessing library records without judicial approval.