Sen. John Thune
The recent bombing and attempted bombings in New York and New Jersey, as well as the shopping mall attack that occurred less than 200 miles from South Dakota’s eastern border, have reminded us once again that the United States isn’t immune to the risk posed by radical Islamic terrorism. Sadly, we’ve seen these types of attacks before, both in San Bernardino and Orlando. We must remain vigilant and do everything we can to ensure potential risks are identified and eliminated, because when it comes to our national security strategy, there is no room for error.
ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack in St. Cloud, a city typically more threatened by an early winter than a knife-wielding ISIS fighter. And we know the man responsible for planting explosive devices in New York and New Jersey neighborhoods was inspired by the radical teachings of Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders. Law enforcement and intelligence communities acted swiftly after these attacks, and I’m hopeful we’ll soon know more about them, the men who carried them out, and in doing so, be able to piece together their motives and any additional ties to terrorist groups like ISIS.
ISIS, once described as the “JV team” by President Obama, has quickly grown into a global network. There’s no question the rise of ISIS can be traced, in part, to the president’s decision to prematurely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Our departure from the region left a hole in Iraq’s security, which created an opportunity for ISIS to expand its reign of terror. Despite the carnage that’s repeatedly filled our TV screens – carnage that cannot be denied – the president and his administration continue to downplay the threat posed by ISIS. This is a gross miscalculation.
In Congress, we’re working to keep American families safe from the threat of terrorism. Senate Republicans will continue to push for the resources our military needs to defeat ISIS and other threats abroad. We will continue pursuing policies that strengthen our borders so we know who is coming in and out of our country – a key component to our national security. And we will continue supporting policies that give our intelligence and security agencies the tools they need to keep the American people safe.
As the leader of the Commerce Committee, which oversees our nation’s transportation system, I’ve looked for ways to improve security on our nation’s roads and railways, and in our skies, too. I fought hard to include numerous airport security provisions in the aviation bill I helped get through Congress earlier this year. Also, I recently introduced a bill that would strengthen security on our nation’s highways and railways by closing the gap in the Transportation Security Administration’s approach to surface transportation security.
Terrorists don’t target one political party or another. They don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Their only goal is to disrupt our peace of mind and cut to the core of our freedom. So when it comes to national security, leaders in Washington must rise above politics and work together to defeat ISIS and fund the men and women who defend our freedom around the globe. It’s our duty, and it’s what the American people deserve.