Weekly Columns

Roe: It’s Important We’re Clear-Eyed About the Enemy We’re Facing in ISIS

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Washington, June 22, 2016 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

Last week, an Islamic terrorist carried out the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since September 11th, and I continue to send my thoughts and prayers to the citizens of Orlando as they bury their loved ones and begin the long road to recovery. My heart is heavy for the innocent victims, their families and the entire city of Orlando. After a horrific event like this, it’s important we unite to examine our policies to ensure we’re doing everything in our power to keep Americans safe.

As I stated last week, it’s important we’re clear-eyed about the enemy we’re facing in ISIS. That’s why I was astounded that the Justice Department tried this week to put out a redacted transcript of the terrorist’s call to 911 that deleted his references to and support for ISIS. The Attorney General’s defense of the department’s actions in this matter called into question how seriously the president considers the threat from radical Islamic terrorism. I was glad the Justice Department was forced to swiftly reverse this decision because a redacted transcript won’t change what we already know: this monster was a radicalized terrorist, inspired by ISIS who targeted the LGBT community. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: an attack on one American is an attack on all Americans – no matter their political party affiliation, religion, socio-economic status or sexual orientation.

It’s also important we act carefully, but not out of fear. Some have suggested that our gun laws need re-examination. This week, the Senate voted on four different gun control amendments intended to keep guns away from terrorists. While no one thinks terrorists should be permitted to purchase a firearm, some of these proposed amendments could result in denying law-abiding Americans their Second Amendment rights while also infringing on their Fifth Amendment rights – the right to due process.

To me, this is simple. The federal government should not be able to infringe on law-abiding citizens’ Constitutionally-protected rights without an opportunity to easily challenge an erroneous accusation. I believe the no-fly and terror watch lists are helpful tools in our ongoing national security efforts, but these lists, particularly the no-fly list, are imperfect. Innocent Americans have all too frequently been falsely accused and dangerous criminals have been overlooked. 

In this country you are innocent until proven guilty; you are not required to prove yourself innocent to continue enjoying the freedoms we value. This is what sets the United States apart from other countries, and I believe – by gradually chipping away at our Constitutionally-granted rights – proposals like those considered in the Senate this week could have serious unintended consequences. These measures will not stop the cowards driven by hate who are determined to kill Americans. In fact, legislating away our freedoms out of fear is exactly the kind of reaction these terrorists want. This is about our country and valuing both the safety and freedom of Americans. These goals aren’t mutually exclusive. 

As this debate moves forward, I am certainly open to reviewing proposals to increase the safety of Americans and keep suspected terrorists from buying firearms, but I will not support any measure that could deny Americans their Constitutional rights without a clear, timely appeals process.

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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