Senator John Thune, Weekly ColumnJust over four years ago, an enemy like none we have ever known attacked our country on a sunny September morning without warning and killed nearly 3,000 innocent people.
For every American and especially those mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, children, friends and relatives who lost loved ones on September 11, the graphic images remain hauntingly fresh, grief runs deep and the memories of those they lost are cherished every day.
But for the terrorists behind the September 11th attacks, the death toll and destruction of that day will never ring high enough to satisfy their aspirations of yet more attacks on our country. Whether it’s the murder of morning commuters in Madrid, school children in Beslan, subway riders in London, or worshippers in Baghdad, the terrorists have made it clear they have not abandoned their mission. They have shown the world they have no respect for innocent life; they hate freedom; and they will continue to plot destruction against America and her allies in dark corners across the globe.
Unfortunately, there are some who would have us believe terrorism is a fading threat. There are some who would have us relax our resolve and focus our priorities elsewhere. This is a misguided and dangerous school of thought.
The threat of terrorism is real and our commitment to fighting it cannot falter.
The War on Terror is not an ideological phrase; it is a serious and consequential war that is being waged with skill and precision every day.
It is no coincidence that this country has not seen another terror attack on our soil since September 11, 2001. It is the efforts of our troops, intelligence community and law enforcement officers that have kept this country terror-free since September 11th. As the President recently announced, the United States and its allies have thwarted at least 10 serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since Sept. 11, 2001.
In order to continue the important work of counter-terrorism and safeguarding our country, the men and women who work to defend and secure America must be equipped with the finest tools and resources available.
Recently, the Senate passed legislation to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act has played a critical role in the dismantling of several terrorist cells within the United States, and has helped in the capture of 401 suspected terrorists.
The legislation to reauthorize the Patriot Act was a good compromise measure resulting from over a year of thorough debate and consideration that strikes the right balance of protecting our country and securing our civil liberties.
The reauthorization bill makes critical national security provisions permanent, including those that helped in dismantling the pre-9/11 communications barriers between intelligence and law enforcement. This bill also adds a number of civil liberties safeguards.
Also important, especially in light of the recent Dubai Ports controversy, the reauthorization bill provides additional tools for securing our mass transportation systems and seaports. It also closes loopholes that jeopardize our ability to put a stop to terrorist financing.
Finally, the reauthorization bill creates a National Security Division at the Department of Justice to further safeguard America against another terrorist attack.
It is legislation like this that keeps our country safe and secure.
As your Senator, I will remain committed to providing our military, intelligence community and law enforcement officers with the resources and tools they need to identify and stop evil before it becomes terror.
And as Americans, we must remain united, vigilant and resolved in our fight against terrorism. We do it to honor the lives that have been lost, to defend our freedoms, and to secure a safer, stronger America for generations to come.