The alarming attack on December 25th 2009 on Northwest Flight 253 highlighted that we are a nation at war, that the War on Terror continues, and countless terrorists half a world away still want to do our citizens and our way of life irreparable harm.
My greatest responsibility as an elected official is to ensure that our homeland is protected, that our troops on the frontlines in Afghanistan, Iraq and across the globe have the resources they need to get the job done. For generations, service men and women, as well as their families selflessly dedicated their lives to serve in our Armed Forces, striving each day to protect our Homeland and the freedoms that we cherish. Today is no different. With our troops stationed all over the world I am committed to providing them with the resources and support they need to complete their tasks and missions.
As a substantial number of our troops have been drawdown from Iraq last year, our attention has turned to the war in Afghanistan, a struggle our military leaders often refer to as the Long War. Our Armed Forces face tremendous challenges on the ground. Our support is vital. I had the privilege of visiting men and women from the Fifteenth District serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, including members of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. I will continue to support our troops and honor our military families throughout the course of operations.
The War on Terror is a struggle we cannot afford to lose. As a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Ranking Member of the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee, I am working to effectively address vulnerabilities in our security structures and identify weaknesses in security capabilities. Last year, I helped usher through the House of Representatives a bill to reauthorize the Transportation Security Administration, a bill to provide the TSA with the technology, resources and flexibility to protect the traveling public from incidents like we saw unfold on Flight 253. Terror organizations, and individuals associated with them, remain steadfast in their pursuit to destroy our way of life. I am committed to identifying and employing the means necessary to protect our Homeland, our community, families and the freedoms we value as Americans.
Effective intelligence gathering and information sharing between domestic law enforcement and the intelligence community must be the centerpiece of America's counter terrorism policy. The Patriot Act and Terrorist Surveillance Program provide important tools to undermine terrorist cells. Prosecuting CIA interrogators and mirandizing terrorists dramatically reduces our ability to gather actionable intelligence.
I have been a vocal opponent of the risky proposal to detain terrorists on U.S. soil. We must keep our state-of-the-art facility in Guantanamo open -- to hold and try terrorists in a safe and secure facility away from populated U.S. cities. After visiting the terrorist detention facilities on the Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba earlier this year, I believe now more than ever that the facility must remain open and functional to hold unlawful enemy combatants, seeking to destroy way of life. Should the facility close and detainees transfer to prisons in the United States, I believe the security of our homeland and citizenry would be weakened. Terrorists are not common criminals. Providing them with rights enjoyed by United States citizens, rather than as enemy combatants will not secure our Homeland. Federal law provides these individuals a fair trial through military commissions, and I believe we should try these individuals under such process in Gitmo.
Despite our greatest efforts at diplomacy, we continue to be a target of militant Islamic terrorists, and we must do all that we can to keep our nation, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania safe and secure. The stakes could not be higher. We must succeed in Afghanistan, leaving al Qaeda and the Taliban with nowhere to populate and gain strength. We could not be more fortunate that the terrorist on Northwest Flight 253 was unsuccessful, but we cannot rest in our efforts to prevent any future attacks.