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Public Statements

Expressing Support For Prompt Response To Attempted Terrorist Attack In Times Square

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PASCRELL. I rise in support of this resolution, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this resolution with my very good friend from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent) honoring and expressing support for the vigilance and prompt response of the citizens and the law enforcement agencies in New York and Connecticut as well as all the Federal authorities and agencies to the attempted terrorist attack in Times Square on May 1, 2010, their exceptional professionalism and investigative work following the attempted attack, and their consistent commitment to preparedness for and collective response to terrorism.

Mr. Speaker, I have long said that real homeland security starts on our streets, not in the halls of Washington, D.C. That's never been a truer statement than today. This shows yet again why we need to support our local first responders--police, fire, EMTs. Another example. They were first to respond before any Federal agencies got involved. That's how it usually always is, be it a manmade catastrophe or a natural catastrophe. These are the individuals who are the first on the scene long before those Federal authorities show up. These are the people who are the eyes and ears of our national security.

Fifty-three hours and seventeen minutes. This is what it took, Mr. Speaker, for the Federal law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, to identify and find and apprehend Faisal Shahzad, the prime suspect for this attempted act of terror on American citizens. In these 53 hours and 17 minutes, the New York Police Department, working with Federal and State law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others, unraveled the tangled web that eventually led to Shahzad's arrest. I thank them. We all thank them.

We acknowledge, however, a few people and groups. First, the alertness and awareness of Mr. Lance Orton and Mr. Duane Jackson for ``seeing something'' on the streets of New York which were out of order; for ``saying something'' to law enforcement; and not hesitating to do so. If it were not for these men, many others could have been hurt and

Shahzad might not have been apprehended. Think about it. This is the kind of vigilance which is vital to homeland security efforts. We were seconds away from an ignition, a fireball. Who really knows the measure of death and destruction if that incendiary would have been ignited. Who really knows to this day.

I want to thank the citizens of New York for helping and cooperating with law enforcement during the precautionary evacuations in the vicinity of Times Square. I want to acknowledge New Yorkers and their resilient nature and ability to return to life as normal. Perhaps I cannot do justice to it as my brother Mr. King would do, but you will have to accept me for now because he's not here.

I want to express my deep appreciation for the professionalism and collective response of the following law enforcement agencies: the New York City Police Department. Always there. Always on duty. Always knowing that their city is a target. Always looking to find out information to prevent anything from happening to their citizens.

How about Police Officer Wayne Rhatigan of the Mounted Unit Troop B, the Fire Department of New York, the New York Police Department Bomb Squad. Look, they put their lives on the line. They could have gone much slower, that's not their job. That--no one knew--could have been a deep bomb explosion. They put themselves on the line. We respect them. Rather than simply pat them on the back, we must commit ourselves--both sides of the aisle--to make sure that we are always there for our first responders and not simply be there to say thank you, but beforehand, give them the resources that they need to defend America and its neighborhoods.

The New York Police Department Bomb Squad, beyond the regular day of duty, led by Lieutenant Mark Torre, and other first responders; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; United States Customs and Border Protection--we know how this character was finally corralled, at the airport on a plane; the Transportation Security Administration, TSA; the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York; the Department of Homeland Security; the Department of Justice; the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which has been a model for the rest of this country; the Bridgeport Police Department, who did so much work in cooperation with Federal authorities to go to the former home of the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrator, whichever you desire; the Detective Bureau; the Patrol Division up in Bridgeport; and other law enforcement agencies in Connecticut.

Finally, I want to thank our private sector partners, too. If Emirates Airlines did not comply with Federal procedures, we might not have apprehended Mr. Shahzad as he was fleeing the country.

Mr. Speaker, while I know others may say that we just got lucky, I say that they're missing the point. Our post-9/11 efforts to foster greater vigilance among our citizens and a culture of preparedness and collaboration among our first responders and law enforcement paid off. We stayed true to our cherished constitutional principles as we initiated this wide-scale collective response to terrorism.

Simply put, Mr. Speaker, while the time line for identifying and apprehending the suspect--53 hours and 17 minutes--is impressive, it is the continued vigilance and demonstrated commitment to working together to keep our country secure which is really impressive, and in awe it leaves us.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I wonder what would have happened if Officer Rhatigan was not on the scene to be alerted by the two citizens I mentioned before. This is exactly why we need to fund our first responders based on security needs. We need no other barometer. America's intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, are critical to the task of protecting our citizens and our neighborhoods. But also on duty every day are our first responders--that local responder is the first. On 9/11 they were the first to respond. And a few days ago they were the first to respond after being alerted by two citizens of New York. Keep this in mind every day when we see the EMTs and the firefighters of our local towns and our police officers on duty. They need more than a pat on the back. They need more than our encouragement. They need our votes to make sure that we sustain the resources necessary for them to protect all of America.

I know when these things happen, we rise up and then a few days later we might just forget, but we cannot forget.

Mr. Speaker, I am honored to have presented this resolution today along with the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent).

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