This afternoon, congressional Democrats will, at long last, unveil their security “agenda,” something they call “Real Security.” Unfortunately, the culture of obstruction they have created on important matters of national security demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the war on terror, and the policies necessary to secure our country.
Recent political criticisms and attacks on the president and on the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate are beyond the pale–most notably when it comes from those who fought reauthorization of important measures that protect our country, such as the USA Patriot Act, and those who have criticized critical intelligence-gathering authorities.
Good ideas do not come easy. Creating a viable security agenda to protect our country is no simple thing, either. There are many moving parts, and many important elements, all competing for–and deserving–our attention. To lead, to work together to move an important idea or agenda forward requires energy, compromise, and a dogged willingness to put aside one’s own interest for the greater good. But the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate continues to demonstrate it is equal to the task–and continues to carry out its responsibility to protect the American people.
And yet it appears that some in Washington prefer to criticize–or worse yet, work to thwart–the best efforts of the Senate to preserve our security. In the place of solutions, they offer more criticism; in the place of ideas, more obstruction. But criticism, obstruction and poll-tested “agendas” haven’t stopped a single terrorist attack.
Today Democrats will profess support for the following “policies”: Eliminate Osama bin Laden; destroy al Qaeda; finish the job in Afghanistan; increase human-intelligence capabilities; eliminate terrorist breeding grounds; transition to full Iraqi sovereignty and promote stability in the region; increase investment in military manpower; implement the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations; secure the nation’s ports; and eliminate dependence on foreign sources of energy by encouraging the use of alternative fuel sources.
Sound familiar? It should. These are all efforts that the administration and Republican Congress have implemented, or that Democrats have delayed or otherwise blocked. A brief review demonstrates disturbing inconsistencies that refuse to be reconciled:
Win the war on terror, yet fight to kill the Patriot Act
It is difficult to give much credibility to those who in one breath will complain that port security is being compromised, and then in the next breath will denounce the Patriot Act, which contains important provisions to preserve security at those same ports. It is difficult to find anything substantive in allegations that the critical law-enforcement tools it provides somehow violate the civil liberties Americans hold dear, when in fact this important legislation has played a critical role in dismantling several known terrorist cells, and no consistent abuses of its authorities have been found. The law has afforded significant progress in the war on terror, and to devalue its importance is simply to misunderstand the nature of the enemy our country faces.
Voice support for the troops, despite past calls for retreat
It is difficult to reconcile when on one hand, some will say we must do everything possible to protect our country–which includes fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to fight them on our own soil–and then calling on the president to cut and run. Give up. Bring our troops home.
Defeat the terrorists, but oppose legal surveillance
Finally, it is difficult to swallow the accusations of those who say the necessary steps have not been taken to secure the safety of our citizens, when there is such hyperbole and hysteria promoted about the Terrorist Surveillance Program–which is well within the President’s legal authorities to protect the American people from another terrorist attack. To expend the time and energy to attempt a censure of the president, to deem a program illegal in the face of facts to the contrary, all such efforts merely obstruct the meaningful work of protecting the nation.
There are simply too many inconsistencies in their “agenda.” No rebranding of image, policy makeover, or revisionist marketing ploys will secure our nation or protect our ports and borders. But there is hope to be found in the common sense of the American people and their ability to see today’s announcement for what it is: a misguided election-year political attack that some in the Democrat caucus hope will draw attention away from a culture of obstruction, and a lack of constructive, original ideas.
The Republican leadership in the Congress and the administration work daily to bolster homeland security and fortify our nation’s defense. Those who would criticize these efforts should stop politicizing national security, stop listening to their political and media consultants, and start uniting behind our common defense.
That would be real security.
–U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R., Tex.) is the chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.