Thirteen years ago, our nation suffered one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in modern history. The lives of thousands of innocent Americans were suddenly taken by an evil we did not yet fully understand.
September 11th was a sobering moment for the entire country. When it finally hit home, it came as a complete shock.
I will never forget that morning in my Washington office. Much like my grandparent’s generation that could tell you where they were when Pearl Harbor was announced or my parent’s generation when they heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination, I will always remember watching the live footage on TV of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center before police officers evacuated us from the building.
Recovering from a tragedy of this magnitude is no simple task. However, the character of our nation was on full display that day. First responders, police officers, and firefighters selflessly fought through the soot and rubble to help survivors to safety.
In the immediate aftermath, many Americans answered the call to serve, and many have laid down their lives to fight this pervasive evil. Their service has sent a clear and resounding message to the rest of the world: The United States will not tolerate terrorism and will take decisive action to protect its citizens and interests.
Over the past decade, our country has grown to understand the harsh realities of terrorism.
Just two years ago, the horrific attack in Benghazi that took the lives of four Americans reminded us that the threat of terrorism persists. It reminded us that we cannot slip into complacency.
Today, we face the burgeoning threat of ISIS, a terrorist organization that has slaughtered countless innocent men, women, and children in the name of establishing an oppressive Islamic state. In their attempt to create a political state, they have managed to take control of significant regions in both Syria and Iraq – all while recruiting more supporters and militants to their campaign of violence.
ISIS has actively threatened harm to American civilians at home. The brutal filmed execution of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, only served to confirm their intent.
Unfortunately, the response from the White House has been incomplete and troubling up until this point. In January, the president dismissed the Islamic militant organization as a “J.V. team” even after they overwhelmed Iraqi security forces to take control of Fallujah. Then, just last week, when asked about the threat of ISIS, President Obama told reporters that “We don’t have a strategy yet.”
It was not until last night the president addressed the nation on this matter. I am glad he acknowledged the threat of ISIS and laid out a general strategy to dismantle the militant organization. However, words alone will not defeat these extremists.
I wish the president had come to this observation before the Islamic state had the opportunity to develop into such a critical national security threat.
We are dealing with extremists who will do whatever it takes to hurt American citizens, which requires a definitive and serious response. In the coming days, I will review the president’s plan to ensure our military has the tools and resources to carry out this mission.