No American ever wants to relive the attacks of September 11th. This is particularly true on Long Island where hundreds of our friends and neighbors were murdered on that horrific day. As the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence as a Member of the Intelligence Committee, I know that the New York–Long Island region remains the number one terrorist target in the country.
The threat of homegrown terrorism and Islamic radicalization, as evidenced by the terrorist attacks at Fort Hood and Times Square, is the most prolific threat facing the Homeland. Last Congress, in my capacity as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I held a series of hearings examining the extent of this threat. The first hearing focused on the radicalization in the Muslim-American Community and that community’s response. This hearing was followed by three subsequent ones dealing with the threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons, Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim-American Community by Al-Shabaab, and a joint-hearing with the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee regarding the threat to military communities inside the U.S. as well as the threat from radicalized Muslims within our military.
The war against Islamic terrorism must be fought in many ways and we must do all we can to stay ahead of our enemy. That is why I have supported the PATRIOT Act and the right of our government to intercept terrorist phone calls being made into the United States from overseas. I have worked hard to pass legislation securing our ports, our chemical plants, and our airports. I have also reached across the aisle to pass legislation protecting our rail and transportation systems.
It is essential that we continue to take concrete steps to secure our border, particularly as the nation looks to tackle immigration reform. Last Congress, I authored the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act. This bill aimed to strengthen border security by requiring a strategy for gaining operational control of the border; requiring interdepartmental and interagency consultation of border security technology; and allowing for the Border Patrol to have regular access to federal borderlands. I will continue to work with my colleagues to effectively address and eliminate illegal cross border activity.
Finally, I have also continued my efforts to ensure that New York City and Long Island receive the Homeland Security funding needed to protect among other things our subway and commuter lines, and our ports and highways. I am particularly concerned that the next terrorist attack against New York City will be launched from the suburbs such as what happened in London and Madrid. That is why New York’s Securing the Cities (STC) Initiative, which would establish radiation detectors throughout the region, is so vital. While it was wrong for the Obama Administration to eliminate funding for this program in its first two years (I had to fight to make sure STC received funding), I am pleased to report that money for this region was included in the President’s last two budgets for this program. In addition, I have also previously sponsored legislation (H.R. 2611) which passed the House and would implement a unified strategy and provide the technology for defending New York City, Long Island, and the surrounding areas against radiological and nuclear threats.