A Serious Moment That Calls For Serious Solutions
‘So we have a choice. We can focus on defeating ISIL, or we can focus on partisan politics. Some of our colleagues may think this is all some game. We’ve seen the ridiculous tweets and the bizarre one-liners about guns and terrorists…Republicans, Democrats, the President of the United States—we can spend our time redacting and reacting, or we can acknowledge the threats before us and work to prevent more ISIL-fueled atrocities.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for the President to lay out a credible plan to defeat ISIL:
“We learned yesterday that our allies in Jordan were victims of a terrorist attack. The vehicle-borne IED killed Jordanian soldiers and police officers, and although ISIL has not taken credit for the attack, the tactics used certainly resemble those frequently employed by ISIL. Last week, a terrorist that ISIL called a soldier of the caliphate took 49 lives as he proudly proclaimed his allegiance to ISIL. Days later, the CIA Director delivered a sobering analysis of ISIL’s strength and capabilities.’[O]ur efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach,’ he said. ‘[A]s we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino, and elsewhere, ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers…[and it’s] training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks.’
“These are the facts — facts that the Director of Central Intelligence did not deliver lightly. They’re worrying. They remind us that this vile, hate-filled terrorist group is going to keep bringing tragedies to our doorstep until it is defeated where it trains, operates, and prepares — places like Iraq and Syria.
“So we have a choice. We can focus on defeating ISIL, or we can focus on partisan politics. Some of our colleagues may think this is all some game. We’ve seen the ridiculous tweets and the bizarre one-liners about guns and terrorists.
“I believe this is a serious moment that calls for serious solutions. I ask every Senator to consider this statement from one of our Democratic colleagues just last week. ‘Why have this job, one of the most powerful jobs in the world,’ he asked, ‘if we are not going to exercise it to try to protect Americans from harm?’
“This is the point I’m making. He may have meant these words in a different context, but the reality is this: We all know that the principal way to prevent more ISIL-inspired and ISIL-directed heartbreak is to actually defeat ISIL. This is not an easy task. It doesn’t always make for snappy one-liners. And not only is it going to take time, it’s going to take all of our efforts. But that’s why our constituents sent us here.
“Here’s what we need from President Obama: lead a serious campaign to defeat ISIL. Here’s what we need from each other: work toward serious solutions to fight terror beyond our borders and serious counter-terror tools to prevent attacks within them. We’ll have opportunities to take positive steps forward as we resume consideration of the legislation before us.
“This bill will give the FBI and law enforcement more resources to track down and defuse terrorist threats. Funding is only one piece of the larger puzzle, however. The FBI and law enforcement also need smart, targeted tools to help stop terrorist attacks before they happen in the first place. We’ll have the opportunity to consider more good ideas this morning as part of the McCain Amendment.
“One of these good ideas, ECTR Reform, will allow law enforcement to connect the dots of terrorist communications in order to disrupt their plans. The inability to connect the dots has been one of the problems the FBI has had in identifying homegrown terrorists like the one in Orlando. The FBI Director calls this smart, targeted reform ‘enormously helpful’ and recently identified it as a top legislative priority. It will not allow for the collection of any content, nor will it infringe on civil liberties or civil rights. What it will do is give law enforcement a critical helping hand in the midst of ISIL’s sophisticated Internet campaign to direct and inspire attacks in our communities. Given all we know about ISIL and its ability to radicalize people on the Internet, doesn’t that just make sense?
“Here’s another idea that just makes sense: the McCain Amendment’s Lone Wolf provision. ISIL’s spokesman recently issued a call for lone wolf attacks against the West during Ramadan. Its followers heard the call. Last Sunday in Orlando. Last Monday in France. Days later in Belgium — a near-miss in what appears to be ISIL-directed attack planning. We need to better address the threat of lone wolf terrorists. That means providing law enforcement with the tools and the certainty necessary to do so. That’s what the Lone Wolf provision will provide. It’s an idea that’s passed Congress before. Now we can enact it into law on an enduring basis as part of the McCain Amendment. Unfortunately, threats from lone wolf attacks are not going away. The legal authority to help prevent them should not go away either.
“Smart, targeted counter-terrorism ideas like these were Republican priorities well before the terrorist attack in Orlando. They continue to be at the forefront of our efforts now. We also remain focused on doing what we can to help this President and the next one take down ISIL.
“These kinds of ideas should be all of our priorities moving forward. Republicans, Democrats, the President of the United States—we can spend our time redacting and reacting, or we can acknowledge the threats before us and work to prevent more ISIL-fueled atrocities.”