Terrorism and National Security
The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, united our country as we confronted the international security challenge posed by extremist Islamic groups like al-Qaida. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am firmly committed to ensuring that our military and intelligence communities have the tools, technology and resources they need to guard our nation, defeat our enemies and support our allies. I am equally committed to ensuring that we enact tough but smart policies that protect constitutional freedoms while keeping Americans safe.
In February 2011, I partnered with the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (The CELL) in Denver to host a national security forum, where I laid out many of my principles on these issues. I was joined by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, former Ambassador to Iraq and Korea Christopher Hill, and former Presidential Homeland Security Advisor Kenneth Wainstein for a robust conversation about the challenges and threats facing the United States. The Associated Press reported on the productive discussion we had HERE, and you can watch a video of the event, Emerging Threats to U.S. National Security: From Iran to Global Terrorism, HERE:
We have learned two important lessons in recent years, both at far too dear a cost. First, we can't afford to ignore the threat of religious extremism abroad. And second, aggressive military action won't fully deter the threat of terrorism at home. We must be both smart and tough as we engage with our allies and adversaries. We can reach both goals with a strong military, robust diplomacy, and strategic alliances. As we have seen from the uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa, every situation is unique, and the United States cannot afford to adopt a ‘one-size fits all’ mindset when dealing with complex international issues.
Finally, it has become clear we cannot effectively project strength abroad if we’re economically weak at home. If we want to maintain the United States’ role as a global leader, it is absolutely essential that we bring our debt and deficit under control. That’s why I remain a strong supporter of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission’s recommendations for reducing our debt and restoring the United States’ economic strength. There should be no higher priority for this Congress than crafting a balanced, comprehensive and bipartisan deficit-reduction plan along the lines of Simpson-Bowles. To do anything short of a long-term grand bargain is unacceptable and only sets us back into the old ruts of impasse that created the problem in the first place. Coloradans deserve better.
Keeping America safe in our post-9/11 world will require us to rise above the partisan attacks of recent years and come up with comprehensive, tough and intelligent solutions to our national security vulnerabilities. Homeland security is as important in our state as it is in border states and communities – which was reinforced in 2010 when law enforcement agents arrested terrorism suspects in Colorado. The cooperation it took to apprehend these suspects underscores the importance of federal and local governments working together to defend our communities. I am optimistic we can meet new and existing threats, and I look forward to continuing this difficult and urgent work. As I do, I will always keep in mind what is right for Colorado and our nation. Count on me to use my constitutional power of oversight to look closely at the administration's national and homeland security policies and their implementation, and to represent your voices in Washington, D.C.
Press Coverage Regarding Senator Udall's Work on National Security:
During the debate on the FY13 NDAA, the Senate adopted my amendment (#2985) to protect the DOD's ability to research and develop alternative fuels by vote of 62-37. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed with my view that we can no longer afford to send billions of dollars on foreign oil when we have the capability to produce drop-in alternative fuels right here at home. The Department of Defense spent over $15 billion in 2012 for fuel, and global oil prices continue to rise. My amendment allows DOD to continue to spend a very small percentage of their budget to develop technologies that will save billions of dollars and provide enormous strategic benefits in the near future. Energy security is national security, and military fuels research will help us move closer to a stronger, safer country.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is spending money that we don’t have on a missile system – the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) – that it will never use. I’ve been working with a bipartisan group of senators who agree that it’s long past time to cancel this failed experiment. The entire federal government—including the DOD—must be able and willing to tighten their belts in these tough fiscal times, and MEADS is on a road to nowhere. It’s time to bring some Colorado common sense to our budgeting process and do away with programs that are not a good investment of taxpayer dollars.
Security in the Sinai is increasingly a concern to Israel and other countries in the region. American interests in the Middle East include the preservation of Egyptian-Israeli peace, which is threatened by rising lawlessness, criminal and extremist activities, and human rights abuses. I sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama stating that in the absence of strong U.S. leadership, problems in the Sinai will only become worse. My colleagues and I urged the president to work with Egyptian authorities to put in place “a comprehensive, Egyptian-led strategy that will reestablish security and responsible governance over the Sinai Peninsula, consistent with the Camp David Accords.” This strategy should include non-military as well as military components, including potential adjustments in operations, as well as coordination with international partners.
I have grave concerns about the detainee provisions in the FY12 Defense Authorization Act and their potential impact on American citizens' constitutional freedoms and our ability to conduct effective counterterrorism operations. These provisions could potentially be used to put American citizens into indefinite detention without trial or due process. Even more troubling, these policies were not adequately considered - not a single hearing was held - and it should be noted that the Department of Defense (DOD) strongly objected to their passage. I could not support provisions that I believed would hurt our national security, so I filed amendments to the FY12 Defense Authorization Act to address the concerns of the DOD and members of the intelligence community. Read my op-ed with U.S. Rep. Adam Smith on this critical issue HERE.
Read the op-ed I wrote in Stars and Stripes on the importance of securing our energy future and improving our national security by investing in the military's use and development of alternative-fuel technology.