Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Defense

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

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Thanking Law Enforcement

As you may know, last week was National Police Week – a time to pause, recognize the brave men and women in uniform who serve and protect our communities, and honor those who were injured or lost their lives in the line of duty.  Law enforcement officers work day after day, shift after shift, often missing celebrations of events such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  Selfless officers do this because they are answering the call to serve, and because of their desire to make our communities safer and more secure.

Let us all reflect with gratitude upon the safety and security we enjoy, and recognize that this results from the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women in uniform.  To those serving communities in Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District, throughout the Commonwealth, and across the country, I offer my heartfelt thanks for the important work you do.

Freedom, Liberty, and Knowledge

Last week, among other things, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives considered several bills relating to our national defense.

For example, I joined 399 of my colleagues in supporting the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (H.R. 1191).  All of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, desires to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  I hope President Obama will be very aggressive in negotiating with Iran.  I believe that any agreement must include significant compliance verification measures, and that the details of any agreement must be revealed.  Accordingly, I voted in favor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
I also supported the Hezbollah International Financial Prevention Act (H.R. 2297), which would strengthen economic sanctions against the terrorist organization Hezbollah and those financial institutions that knowingly help them.  This bill would sanction the group’s fundraising channels, and would also limit Hezbollah’s ability to use its funds in support of terrorist activities.  Hezbollah poses a threat to the United States and our allies, including Israel.  They must be stopped.

Additionally, the House last week considered the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 1735), legislation deliberated each year which primarily specifies budgeting for the Department of Defense.  As in previous years, I voted against the NDAA, as I believe it fails to adequately protect our civil liberties.  The underlying law says if you give assistance to a terrorist, you can be detained indefinitely by the military and denied all of your civil liberties, except habeas corpus.  Note it doesn’t require that you know that person is a terrorist.  So in theory, under the current system, you could be held indefinitely for having a new neighbor over for dinner or for giving them a ride somewhere, totally unaware that your new neighbor is a person the military has been watching because of the new neighbor’s alleged involvement with or connection to al-Qaeda and associated forces.

Interestingly, while the law underlying the NDAA does not require “knowledge,” the Hezbollah International Financial Prevention Act does, specifying eight times that support be “knowingly” provided to a terrorist organization.

So, as I understand the logic, it is more important to protect the rights of money in a foreign bank than it is an American citizen’s liberty.

I don’t agree with that logic.

Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) offered an amendment to the NDAA in the Rules Committee that would have dealt with the civil liberties problem.  However, the amendment was not allowed.  Because it lacks language that clearly protects our freedom, as in past years, I opposed the NDAA.  If I am to err, I will err on the side of liberty.

The House also considered the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048), which was drafted as a result of the 2013 disclosure of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) blanket collection of Americans’ phone records.  I am opposed to these NSA surveillance programs, and while this bill is a significant improvement, I do not believe it goes far enough in protecting civil liberties.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
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