Especially in New Jersey, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the ongoing War against Terrorism serve as daily reminders that enemies of our nation seek to destroy our way of life.
We must make sure that we adequately fund the Department of Defense and our intelligence agencies.
For example, the last defense budget was $3.5 billion short of the President's request -- despite the fact that we are engaged in two, hard-fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that are hardly over. In fact, the President, with his surge of 33,000 additional soliders and Marines, has obligated us to an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan, where casualties have been rising.
The first time America tangled with extremists overseas, President John Adams was confronted by partisans who chanted: "Millions for defense, not a penny for tribute."
That was then. This is now.
At a time when this Congress has found the "will and the wallet' to throw billions of borrowed dollars at every domestic program under the sun, our leaders are, unfortunately, finding ways to cut defense -- sometimes subtler, sometimes blatant.
As a senior member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I tell my colleagues who have pledged to support a strong national defense, that recent budgets represent the high water mark for defense funding. It's all downhill from here.
Of course, I support reform of our military acquisition processes. Getting new tools into the hands of our warfighters takes too long and costs too much.
I have supported Secretary Gates' program to re-examine our national security priorities in light of the new irregular challenges and threats that are proliferating well beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and Syria.
I have urged the Administration and Congress to make sure we make enough investments today to ensure that we will be prepared to defend our interests against ALL threats in the years to come.
The Administration's plan to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center is downright dangerous. They apparently have settled on a site on U.S. soil to hold the remaining detainees at the naval facility on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The federal government will spend $150 million purchase and renovate a 1,600-bed state prison in northern Illinois to hold approximately 100 dangerous, committed terrorists.
Beyond fulfilling a campaign promise and wasting precious federal money to rebuild a state-of-the-art detention facility, transferring these terrorists to the American Midwest will have important legal ramifications.
We know that constitutional rights are enhanced when detainees come to U.S. soil. In fact, a federal judge may order the government to release a detainee based upon a violation of his constitutional rights.
Americans are entitled to know what additional rights these terrorists will receive simply by virtue of their transfer from Cuba to U.S. soil. They have the right to know where these terrorists will be tried and whether they will be released into American communities if their detention is held to be illegal or they are acquitted on a legal technicality.
The decision to try the September 11, 2001 plotters in New York City is not based on any legal precedent or grounded in national security considerations. It appears that the Administration is intent on making that bad decision worse by opening "Guantanamo North" in our own American heartland.
To better support our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the globe, Congress approved the Secretary of Defense's recommendations to expand Picatinny Arsenal's missions and create hundreds of new jobs at the installation. The Arsenal has become the "joint center of excellence for guns and ammunition," and the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Army's unparalleled leader for producing the most advanced weaponry.
I believe Congress must continue to provide the needed resources for the safety and security of the American people and our young servicemen and women fighting terrorism. In addition to supporting Picatinny, I am constantly working to defend America's freedom and win the War on Terrorism by providing:
* More advanced tools and weaponry to our young soldiers
* Better pay and housing benefits for our regular military, National Guard and Reserves
* Critically important support for all of New Jersey's military installations.
Recognizing the Important Role of Picatinny Arsenal
* Picatinny is the U.S. Army's top-ranked large research and development laboratory, and Frelinghuysen continues to be the Arsenal's greatest champion.
* Through our efforts, Picatinny recently opened an Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and a NanotechnologyCenter. The Arsenal is also in the process of building a new high energy propellant facility and a pyrotechnics laboratory to support our young warfighters.
* I was proud to lead the effort to increase Picatinny's role in New Jersey's homeland security operations by designating it as New JerseyCenterof Excellence for Homeland Security Technologies, Regional Readiness and Training.
* With Picatinny supporting over 10,500 jobs in northern New Jersey, Frelinghuysen works closely with municipal, county, and state officials who support and service the Arsenal.
* I support efforts to strengthen environmental management at the Arsenal by protecting and enhancing ecologically sensitive areas.