U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included two Ros-Lehtinen amendments on SOUTHCOM and regional counter narcotics efforts. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"I am very pleased that my amendments for the NDAA have passed the House of Representatives to help promote regional stability and security. It is vital that we not turn a blind eye to what is going on in our very own region that may pose a threat to our national security interests.
"We have neglected to direct the appropriate amount of attention and resources to combat transnational criminal organizations in the Western Hemisphere who are involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking, narco-terrorism and have even developed close ties with the Iranian regime. One of my amendments will authorize the Secretary of Defense to deploy assets, personnel and resources, in coordination with SOUTHCOM, to combat increasing threats in our region.
"In addition, it is appalling that the Administration has conducted talks with the Castro regime regarding counter narcotics. My second amendment urges the Administration to bolster regional cooperation with countries throughout the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Cuba, to combat drug trafficking. Cuba should be excluded from counter narcotics discussions, or any other talks for that matter, due to the fact that Cuba is designated a state sponsor of terrorism, harbors drug traffickers, violated international agreements by trying to send military equipment to North Korea, support