There is no higher priority for Congress than keeping our nation, communities and families safe here at home. The preamble of the Constitution specifically calls for the “common defense” of our nation, and Article I, Section 8 makes clear it is up to Congress to provide this security. We must be diligent in protecting America from acts of terrorism.
In recent years, Congress and the various federal agencies have taken steps to further protect American citizens. I have consistently supported funding to improve communication and information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement agencies at local, state, and federal levels through fusion centers. Federal grants provided to law enforcement agencies have allowed technological advancements to make policing activities safer and more efficient.
Going forward, increased use of technology will be essential in the continued fight against those seeking to attack us. This means taking advantage of our national assets – including our national labs and partnering with the private sector and universities – to develop technologies designed to protect critical infrastructure, identify threats and prevent potential attacks.
At home, the Port of Tacoma is the largest container port in Washington State and I have worked hard to increase security at our ports. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am working to ensure that our military is the best and most effective fighting force in the world. By aggressively prosecuting extremism around the world, our servicemen and women help prevent terrorist organizations from bringing the fight to our shores.
As we continue to combat terrorism, we must be adamant in protecting the individual civil liberties that are a bedrock principle of our democracy. Developing and implementing new security standards is a process that takes time and proper supervision. Congress must be active in maintaining proper oversight of federal agencies and officials that conduct surveillance. We must continue working to find the appropriate balance that protects the rights we hold dearly while assuring the safety of American citizens. If we are to prevent future attacks on our shores, we need to have a standard of excellence when it comes to security while taking all appropriate steps to ensure federal officials do not inappropriately infringe upon the privacy or liberties of individuals.
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