Issue Position: Terrorism and National Security
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply committed to helping Colorado and our nation win the fight against the forces of terrorism. The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 united our country in recognizing the international security challenge posed by extremist Islamic groups like al Qaeda. This challenge involves keeping our homeland safe by securing our borders and ports of entry, building a global alliance against terrorism and the states that sponsor terrorism, making sure our armed forces are well-trained, well-equipped and properly deployed, and supporting our long-neglected National Guard.
We have learned two important lessons in recent years, both at far too dear a cost. First, the threat of religious extremism abroad is not an abstraction or so far removed from our own borders that we can afford to ignore it. Second, aggressive military action cannot solve all of our problems or fully deter the threat of terrorism at home. Ensuring our security at home and serving our interests abroad means we need to be both smart and tough as we engage with our allies and adversaries. We are best served in both pursuits with robust diplomacy, strategic alliances, and a strong military.
I see my job as a Member of Congress serving on the House Armed Services Committee as an opportunity to promote these objectives. I have maintained close contact with a cadre of military leaders who share my concern about the end-strength and readiness of our Army. I am also in frequent contact and often visit Colorado's military installations at Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base and NORTHCOM/NORAD, Schriever Air Force Base, and the U.S. Air Force Academy (I serve on the Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors) in Colorado Springs and Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.
I am particularly concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials that could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations. That is why I have been a strong advocate of funding for the so-called "Nunn-Lugar" program that provides resources and expertise to secure and dismantle nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their infrastructure in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union.
With regard to homeland security, we still have more to do to make America safer. I was proud to author legislation that called for increasing the size and capacity of our Army, and to help lead the effort to turn the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission into law - legislation that the president signed in August. This legislation will improve communications systems used by first responders, increase security at our ports, and require law enforcement agencies to better share intelligence. I am also pleased that an amendment I offered to the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 passed the House and will return primary authority over our overstretched National Guard to our states' Governors. Given the challenges we've faced recently in dealing with natural disasters, I believe we must give our states the authority they need to bolster our civil defense.
We live in a dangerous world. Keeping America safe in a post-9/11 world will require us to rise above the partisan attacks of recent years and come up with comprehensive, tough, and intelligent solutions to our national security vulnerabilities. I am optimistic that we can face down new and existing threats, and I look forward to continuing this difficult and urgent work.