Issue Position: Securing Rhode Island and the Nation
I take very seriously the responsibility of safeguarding Rhode Island and our country from the threat of terrorism. The Bush Administration's "war on terror" is a slogan instead of a strategy, and many of the policies this Administration has pursued under its rubric have made America less rather than more secure.
Our most urgent focus needs to be on the home front; with energy independence at the forefront. In particular, we must secure our domestic vulnerabilities in the energy and transportation sectors from terrorist attacks. We especially must work hard to ensure that our law enforcement officers, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel, and other first responders have the resources and training necessary to respond safely and effectively to emergencies.
Nearly six years after the attacks of September 11th, the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress passed legislation implementing many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, a measure that had long been blocked by Republican leadership. I voted for that bill, which requires enhanced measures to safeguard our rail networks, airports, mass transit systems, and chemical and nuclear plants, and creates a new grant program to help local first responders communicate with other agencies during a disaster. This legislation will improve the ability of U.S. law enforcement authorities to disrupt terrorist infiltration of our country. I also voted to pass appropriations legislation that would increase overall homeland security funding by 8 percent, including an additional $1 billion in preparedness funding to help protect this country from future disasters, both natural and man-made.
Internationally, the United States must do more to employ our full range of capabilities to prevent terrorism from reaching our shores, including diplomatic engagement, economic influence, and, only as a last resort, the use of military force. The Bush Administration's decision to engage militarily in Iraq, a nation the intelligence community agrees had no relationship with al Qaeda prior to the start of the war, was profoundly misguided, and has distracted our military, diplomats, and public from genuine terrorist threats, such as those lurking in Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
As we remain vigilant in uncertain times, we must also work to preserve basic privacy protections for Americans. I am working to update our nation's data security while, at the same time, protecting consumers' personal information and preventing identity theft.
As a member of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, I will continue working to ensure that efforts to secure and protect the United States have the funding and resources they need, and that when threats emerge, we are able to respond, always remembering that America's greatest strength in the world is the strength of our ideals.