Letter to the Editor

Rep. Ellsworth says he's worked hard on security

Friday, December 14, 2007

To the Editor:

I spent a career as a law enforcement officer helping to keep Hoosier families and communities safe. Now as a Congressman, I take my responsibility to protect America very seriously and have taken several important steps to improve America's security on the local, national, and global level.

I supported implementing the 9/11 Commission's recommendations to provide our local first responders with the tools they need to respond effectively during a national emergency. Specifically, we created a grant program for interoperable communications for first responders and authorized $400 million per year for the program. The 9/11 Commission Report cited the inability of first responders to communicate with one another as a key element in the loss of life on September 11th, and commissioners gave Congress an "F" on improving communications for first responders. Six years after 9/11, that's simply unacceptable.

As a Congressman, I have no greater responsibility than to protect the American people so I was proud to support increased tools for our nation's law enforcement and first responders to help protect us here at home.

And because border security is the foundation of our nation's security, I co-sponsored the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act to strengthen the security at our borders. The bill adds 8,000 new Border Patrol Agents and makes technological improvements at America's northern and southern borders. This is more than a key to solving our country's illegal immigration problem, it is also smart national security policy.

Around the world, America's brave men and women in uniform are defending our country in the Global War on Terror. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, my number one priority is making sure our troops have the weapons, equipment and training they need to complete their missions. And just this week I was proud to support a bill that provides them with more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles which could reduce casualties from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by as much as 80 percent. The bill also included billions of dollars for body armor, up-armored Humvees, and other weapons and equipment.

My goal is to continue to have the biggest, strongest, most advanced military in the world, and then work to ensure we don't have to use it.

I am also working to make sure our intelligence community has the flexibility and tools necessary to fight terrorists in the electronic age while protecting Americans' civil liberties. I don't believe we have to choose one goal over the other. We can protect our Constitution and our country at the same time.

I did this by supporting the Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective (RESTORE) Act, which updates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that was written in 1978 to make sure our intelligence community has the flexibility and tools necessary to fight terrorists in the electronic age while protecting Americans' rights and personal privacy.

All of these policies represent commonsense solutions that improve our nation's security. I was proud to support them and will continue to look for ways to help keep our communities and country safe.

U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth