The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, united our country as we confronted the international security challenge posed by extremist Islamic terrorist groups like al Qaeda. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have a seat at the table as we make important decisions about how to secure our nation. And I am firmly committed to helping Colorado and our nation win the fight against the forces of terrorism.
I believe we must keep our homeland safe by:
* Securing our borders and ports of entry;
* Building a global alliance against terrorism and the nations that sponsor it;
* Making sure our armed forces are well-trained, well-equipped and properly deployed; and
* Supporting our National Guard.
You have my commitment that I will work with members of both parties, the Administration, and top military leaders to ensure we are taking all of these steps. We have learned two important lessons in recent years, both at far too dear a cost. First, we can't afford to ignore the threat of religious extremism abroad. And second, aggressive military action won't fully deter the threat of terrorism at home. We must be both smart and tough as we engage with our allies and adversaries. We can reach both goals with a strong military, robust diplomacy, and strategic alliances.
Securing Weapons of Mass Destruction
One of the biggest threats we face is from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and loose nuclear materials. We must continue to work with other nuclear powers in the world to secure weapons of mass destruction so they don't fall into the hands of terrorist organizations and others who mean us harm. I've been a strong advocate of funding for the "Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program," a global security initiative overseen by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The program 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. This is one key way we can keep our nation and our allies safe.
Keeping the Homeland Safe
We also still have more to do to make Americans safer here in Colorado and throughout the nation. I am proud that I can continue to play a leadership role as we work to protect our citizens. As a member of the House of Representatives, I authored legislation that called for increasing the size and capacity of our Army. And I helped lead the effort to turn the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission into law in 2007. This legislation is helping ensure first responders can communicate during an emergency, increasing security at our ports, and requiring 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 is responsible for returning primary authority over our overstretched National Guard to our states' governors. Given the challenges we often face in dealing with natural disasters, including wildfire here in Colorado, I believe we must give our states the authority they need to bolster our civil defense. Finally, as demonstrated by the terror suspects recently arrested in Colorado, homeland security is as important in our state as it is in border states and communities. The cooperation that it took to apprehend these suspects underscores the importance of federal and local cooperation in defending our homeland.
Rising to the Challenge
Keeping America safe in our 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 meet new and existing threats, and I look forward to continuing this difficult and urgent work. As I do, I will always keep in mind what is right for Colorado and our nation. Count on me to use my constitutional power of oversight to look closely at the Administration's plans for homeland security, and to represent your voices in Washington, D.C.