Jim's Column

Safety is Number One Priority

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Washington, DC, September 7, 2006 | Raj Bharwani ((202) 225-5101) | comments
 This Monday, September 11, marks the five-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001 which claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people. As the day approaches, and particularly during the course of Monday, we will all have our own methods of dealing with it. Some will remember their loved ones and the innocent bystanders who perished that day, while others may think about where they were and what they were doing five years ago.

In Congress, we too have our memories of the day. They are part of the reason why the House of Representatives has designated September’s agenda to focus first and foremost on national security issues. According to House Majority Leader John Boehner, “…whether it is national security, homeland security, or border security…I think the American people want to know that their safety and security needs are being addressed and Republicans have and will continue to make that our number one priority.”

To that end, our legislative priorities for September include:

  • A resolution recognizing the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks;
  • Authorizing the President’s Terrorist Surveillance Program designed to identify and disrupt terror cells planning attacks against the US;
  • Authorizing military tribunals for suspected terrorists;
  • Strengthening border security;
  • Funding & Protecting American Troops; and
  • Passing the Homeland Security appropriations conference report.

  • In the five years since September 2001, we have managed to avoid a repeat of the terrorist attacks in the US. The same cannot be said for other nations, as we have seen attacks occur in places as varied as a nightclub in Bali, to the mass transit attacks in Madrid, London, and earlier this year, India. I have no doubt that our nation’s track record is largely a result of legislation we have passed since 2001. Bills such as the PATRIOT Act have provided our President with the tools to detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist cells in our nation. The REAL ID bill, which was signed into law last year, helps ensure that participating states issue driver’s licenses to people who are who they claim to be, and if they’re visiting the US, then the license expires when their visas do. In the post 9/11 world that we live in today, possession of a fake driver’s license isn’t just an identity theft issue, it’s a security issue because driver’s licenses are used to enter federal buildings and board airplanes.

    But even with this record, we cannot rest, or let our guard down. The people we are at war with are constantly working to find a different way to attack Americans. In 2001, they took the lives of innocent men, women, and children. We owe it to them, and to those they left behind, to make sure that safety is our number one priority. As President Bush said, “America is safer, but we are not yet safe.”

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