Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid entered the following statement into the Congressional Record today regarding the recent attempted terrorist attack in New York City:
“Last weekend’s close call is a wake-up call. The attempt to bomb New York City’s Times Square should remind us both of the vigilance we must maintain to keep Americans safe, and the triviality of political finger-pointing.
“I first want to once again thank the men and women who helped avert disaster – and saved untold lives – in one of America’s most iconic and crowded spaces. The system in place appears to be working as designed: improved aviation security measures helped authorities apprehend the subject as he attempted to flee, and the suspect is now reportedly providing valuable information that could help disrupt and prevent future attacks. I am confident he and anyone else who contributed to this atrocious act will be held to account.
“But I have been disappointed that some have tried to politicize this attempted attack on our homeland. Let’s use this opportunity to pursue justice and make sure our law enforcement, military, and intelligence services have every tool they need to do their jobs. Let’s also be sure we examine what worked and didn’t so we can improve the system. But let’s not mistake it as an opportunity to score political points or make baseless accusations that do nothing to ensure our citizens’ safety.
“A thwarted terrorist attack in the heart of our nation’s most populous city reminds us that we have enough real enemies – we need not be our own.
“Let’s also put this latest incident in context: It follows a successful series of steps the administration has taken to protect us here at home.
“We have disrupted numerous terrorism plots and prosecuted dozens of terrorist suspects, including the ringleader of a plan to bomb New York City’s subway system last year. Attorney General Holder called that plot ‘one of the most serious terrorist threats to our nation since September 11th, 2001.’ That attack never happened, we cannot know how many lives were saved, and our country is safer because of this administration’s swift and smart leadership.
“Our nation is also prosecuting David Headley, who is accused of plotting with the Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba to launch the devastating terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, as well as to carry out other plots in South Asia and Europe. Attorney General Holder has credited the criminal justice system for achieving both a guilty plea and valuable intelligence about terrorist activities from Headley.
“And earlier this year, the FBI disrupted an international network of extremists operating through the Internet to plot attacks, raise funding for terrorism and recruit new terrorists. Two Americans – Colleen LaRose and Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, also known as Jihad Jane and Jihad Jamie – were arrested along with 6 foreign co-conspirators. The two Americans will soon be tried in federal court.
“That’s not all. We have also enhanced intelligence sharing, strengthened aviation security and boosted human-intelligence collection capabilities. We have fully implemented the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. And we have significantly increased funding for the FBI, the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence community.
“At the same time, we’re keeping Americans safer at home by taking the fight to terrorists abroad. In recent months we have helped kill or capture the most wanted terrorist leaders across Iraq, southeast Asia, Africa and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. We have disrupted al Qaeda’s operations, finances and safe havens, and killed or captured more than half of its top 20 leaders. It is widely agreed that al Qaeda is the weakest it has been since 9/11.
“We’ve also begun to reverse the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, in part by tripling the number of U.S. troops there. And we’ve strengthened our partnership with Pakistan, empowering it to mount major offensives against terrorists within its borders.
“I’m praising the administration’s vigilance not because the President is a Democrat. I’m praising it because it is, by any objective measure, successful. America is as prepared as ever to defend against any threat, domestic or foreign.
“If, as this past weekend showed us, private citizens, street vendors, law enforcement and intelligence officials can work together in everyone’s best interest, I would expect United States Senators to be able to do the same.”