The attempt to destroy airplanes in mid air and, as we recently learned, timed to detonate while in flight over the Eastern United States brings home once again the serious threat to the nation being relentlessly plotted by terrorist deviants, committed to murdering as many Americans as they can.
Having witnessed from only eight blocks away, the planes fly toward and crash into the twin towers, and all its horrid aftermath including their collapse, terrorism is an issue that has haunted me as so many others. My anxieties and fears have been honed in large measure by personal experience. While in the Navy many years ago I served as the Assistant District Security Officer of what was then known as the Third Naval District. The District had as one of its mandates coordination on New York Harbor Security. In preparation for the assignment I was instructed in the manifold aspects of Atomic, Biological and Chemical warfare.
Today, the weaponry has not significantly changed but the nature of those willing to bring them or any method into play has. Clearly the volition to do us harm has not abated since 9/11, and perhaps now, as witness the air cargo plot, more than ever in recent experience, we need be acutely vigilant.
For that reason, in order to help us all understand what we are up against I would like to take the liberty of submitting below, political proclivities aside, what could well be deemed a clarion call by Rep. Peter King who will become the Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which appeared this week in the New York Post. It should be required reading for all Americans:
“Getting Homeland Security on Track“
By PETER KING
Last Updated: 4:28 AM, November 8, 2010
Posted: 10:14 PM, November 7, 2010
Without a doubt, the 9/11 terrorist attacks forever changed America. They changed the lives of those who lost their loved ones that day and in the continuing global War on Terror. They changed me — more than 150 of my friends and constituents were among the nearly 3,000 who died that morning.
The attacks also changed Washington. In response, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security and charged two new committees (one House, one Senate) to oversee the department and work to protect the American people from terrorist attacks.
Following last week’s election, I look forward to returning as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in January for the 112th Congress and refocusing the committee to where it should be.
Rep. John Boehner, who’ll be the next House speaker, and I have discussed the necessity of having the committee actively oversee DHS to ensure that it’s fulfilling its mission of protecting America against Islamic terrorism and effectively coordinating its activities with all elements of the intelligence and law-enforcement communities.
As chairman, I’ll make securing our homeland from terrorists the committee’s primary focus. This seems like an odd thing to say, because that should be its top priority already. Yet, over the last four years, the committee’s Democratic leadership has moved its sights from that target.
The Democrats have convened hearing after hearing on such issues as Hurricane Katrina and diversity in the DHS workforce. Those are important issues, for sure. Yet they convened those hearings to the exclusion of hearings on such serious terrorism issues as the al Qaeda-linked massacre at Fort Hood and President Obama’s plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and transfer terrorists to the US homeland.
As chairman, I’ll change that. We’ll hold hearings on the Fort Hood shootings, and we’ll work to stop the transfer of admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators from Guantanamo to lower Manhattan for trial.
We’ll focus on al Qaeda’s tactic of recruiting and radicalizing individuals residing in America: The Fort Hood gunman was a US Army major; the man who planned to attack NYC subways last year was a legal permanent resident; the Times Square car bomber was a naturalized US citizen.
We’ll work with the Homeland Security secretary to improve cargo security on passenger and cargo planes. We’ll pass legislation to secure our borders, increasing the law-enforcement presence to stop illegals, including potential terrorists, from crossing.
We’ll be mindful of the fact that, even though New York City is certainly not the only high-risk city in America, it remains at the top of al Qaeda’s target list. Since 9/11, federal law enforcement and the NYPD have disrupted at least 10 terrorist plots here.
As chairman, I’ll fight for increased homeland-security funding for New York and other high-risk cities. Earlier this year, the Obama administration slashed New York’s grant for mass-transit and port security by 25 percent.
I’ll work to strengthen Securing the Cities, a proven partnership among federal, state and local authorities to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism, through a ring of detection devices in and around the New York metro area. The administration has twice tried to end funding for this critical counterterrorism program; each time, I’ve succeeded in securing continued funds to protect New York City — and I hope to see it copied in other cities throughout the nation.
Most New Yorkers know that I’ve never been shy about criticizing the Obama administration when its policies and priorities are wrong. Yet I’ve also supported the administration when it does the right things to secure our homeland, such as stopping the recent Yemen bomb plot. As chairman, I’ll continue to do both, as necessary.
I look forward to working with Speaker Boehner, the new Republican House majority and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman, to keep the Homeland Security Committee’s sights set on our terrorist enemies — and will work with President Obama, his White House and the Homeland Security secretary to ensure that they do the same.
Peter King, a Republican, represents Long Island in the US House”