We must defeat the Islamic State and keep the homeland safe

Published 2:56 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Last Wednesday, our nation was struck by a horrific terrorist attack — the deadliest terror attack in our nation since 9/11.

I am deeply saddened by the violence that occurred in San Bernardino.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those we lost as law enforcement continues to investigate what appears to be an act of terror.

We mourn for the 14 individuals we lost, and we continue to pray for the full recovery of the 17 who were injured.

As more information has come to light, it has become clear that the couple responsible for this evil attack was inspired by the Islamic State’s reign of terror.

There is even evidence that one of these terrorists had social media connections with one of the most active and effective ISIS recruiters.

This despicable act of terror underscores the need to destroy the Islamic State and other agents of terror that are spreading their message of hate in the effort to incite violence in the U.S. and around the world.

Their threat to the United States is even more real now than ever.

On Sunday, the president addressed the nation in response to the tragic events in recent weeks.

While I appreciated his call for unity in the face of the threat of terror, I was disappointed that the president did not articulate any new tactics or strategy in the effort to destroy ISIS.

Instead, he said that we would keep doing the same things we are already doing despite the fact that we have not made significant progress in the effort to destroy ISIS.

The president also called on congress to adopt an authorization for the use of military force for his campaign against ISIS.

While I agree that congress should authorize military engagement of this degree, and I am disappointed we have not authorized the airstrikes and special operations the president has employed, the president must do more than state four bullet points on television if he wants the American people to support a proper military strategy.

The president must develop and present a thorough strategy to defeat the Islamic State and outline the metrics for our goals.

It is the commander-in-chief’s constitutional responsibility alone to detail this plan, and it is incumbent upon congress to consider his proposal, once he has outlined such a strategy.

I did appreciate the president’s comments on the need to review and tighten our immigration protocols in light of the circumstances involved in the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

We have learned that one of the terrorists in San Bernardino came to the United States on a K-1 visa, more commonly known as a fiancé visa.

While she was screened before entering the country, clearly that screening was insufficient; we have heard about similar vulnerabilities in the visa waiver program and with the vetting of refugees.

We must address these weaknesses, close the loopholes, and gather the intelligence necessary to make our screening processes effective.

Failure to do so allows unacceptable levels of risk to persist.

The house has already passed legislation to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in light of our screening issues, and this week, the house will consider legislation to tighten our visa-waiver program.

This bill will allow the Department of Homeland Security to suspend a country’s participation in the visa-waiver program if that country does not provide us with the necessary intelligence information we need to prevent terrorists from traveling to the United States.

While this is legislation is critically important, we have much more to do to improve our ability to protect ourselves from radicalization at home and abroad and to destroy the agents of terror seeking to perpetuate evil across the globe.

Robert Hurt, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at his Farmville office at (434) 395-0120.