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Confronting Terrorism, United as Americans


Location: Washington, DC

A marathon runner myself, I want to begin this week's column by letting the runners, first responders, families and friends of those involved in Monday's tragic events in Boston know that Pam and I send our thoughts, prayers and well-wishes to you. The acts of kindness and bravery following Monday's horrific events warm my heavy heart, and I commend our first responders -- the EMS, fire and police officers -- who rushed to help victims not knowing whether they were in harm's way. President Obama, our police and intelligence officers and the leaders involved in this investigation deserve our support and prayers as they work to bring the person or persons behind this atrocious terrorist attack to justice. As the president said, when confronting terrorism and perpetrators of heinous attacks like these, there are no Republicans and Democrats -- only Americans.

As we piece together the facts surrounding Monday's events, it's very difficult to focus our attention elsewhere, but that's what the mind or minds behind this tragedy want. As hard as it seems, we should fight to keep this terrible event from defining this celebrated day in history. We can honor the memory of those precious lives lost by keeping them close to our hearts and standing together in the face of adversity. We stand united in the love we share for this country and the beautiful city of Boston. We will prevail.

As if Monday's tragic news wasn't enough, we were reminded again of the constant threats, often unseen, when an envelope believed to contain the poison ricin was sent to Senator Roger Wicker's office. Fortunately, the piece of mail was intercepted at an off-site mail screening facility and no one was injured. Even though we've seen this week that, unfortunately, all threats are not preventable, the emergency preparedness procedures we have in place often save lives. We must continue to deter terrorists - both foreign and domestic - and those who would do us harm by ensuring we're fully prepared for the possibility of new threats.

This week, the House took action to try to address another unseen threat -- the threat of cyber attacks, which are attacks from Internet hackers who target U.S. computer networks. In an open hearing held by the Senate Intelligence Committee, FBI director Robert Mueller stated that "Down the road the cyber threat will be the number one threat to the country." Director Mueller's statement did not fall on deaf ears. Tomorrow, the House is expected to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act, known as CISPA. This bill encourages the public and private sector to share information about online threats in real time so we can ensure we're protected by all threats. The bill also ensures that the public's information is protected and is not held by the government if it is received from a company because of a threat. As I've said before, each time I take a vote in Washington I ask myself if it will make us less free or infringe on our civil liberties. If the answer is yes, I will not support the legislation before me. I am proud to support CISPA and I'm confident this bill will help with some of our cybersecurity concerns without robbing Americans of their civil liberties.

In the days, weeks and months ahead I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure we're doing all we can to protect our citizens from these senseless attacks.

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