Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul, responded to last month’s apprehension of two suspected terrorists in his hometown of Bowling Green, Ky., by immediately insisting upon an investigation into what procedures and safeguards broke down, allowing the men into the United States.
Following Sen. Paul’s calls for an investigation, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a full hearing last Thursday, with officials from the Departments of State and Homeland Security to discuss the issue. Officials from State and DHS offered testimony, and Sen. Paul addressed them with questions focused on how to prevent terrorist travel to the United States.
Sen. Paul suggested to the committee that the most serious threats to our country from terrorism come from people entering from abroad on travel visas, refugee visas, and student visas. “Some might argue with that,” said the senator, “but 16 of the 19 [Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks] hijackers were here on student visas, weren’t policed well, and had overstayed their welcome.”
Sen. Paul issued this statement following the hearing. (Below is video of Sen. Paul’s questions at the hearing.):
“The role of the federal government in preventing terrorists from entering our country must include the ability to secure our borders and keep out those who wish to do us harm. We must prevent the kind of terrorist travel that allowed two Iraqi refugees and suspected terrorists into my hometown of Bowling Green.
“But after today’s hearing, I remain deeply concerned. We learned that our entire security apparatus is inundated with information. There is so much information, it causes a backlog of fingerprints, yet, we continue to process visas and create the potential for people who wish to do us harm to enter our country,” Sen. Paul said.
“If our screening process is broken because of a backlog, then let’s fix it. By continuing to allow people into the country without having all relevant information, we put ourselves in grave danger.”
Watch the video of Sen. Paul at the committee hearing: