Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

SECURING THE HOMELAND?

Various congressional committees will spend the summer drafting the Homeland Security Act, legislation that will create the largest new federal bureaucracy in several decades. Only broad proposals exist at the moment, but the debate over details may reveal how special interests and power hungry bureaucrats stand in the way of common sense. We certainly donít need another federal jobs program that does nothing to make us safe from terrorism, nor should we be eager to pour more money into the same agencies and policies that failed us on September 11th.

Real homeland security must focus on consolidation of federal agency resources, better intelligence gathering, and elimination of red tape and bureaucratic turf battles that prevent proper sharing of information. Proposals to merely hire thousands of new federal employees and throw money at new agencies- without changing the bureaucratic culture- are doomed to fail.

There are commonsense measures Congress can take to make America safer immediately, measures that do not require the creation of new bureaucracies or the trampling of constitutional liberties.

First and foremost, we must take control of our borders and prevent potential terrorists from entering the country. We also must do a better job keeping track of those individuals we do allow to enter. Visas should not serve as a revolving door that enables our worst enemies to live among us.

As a member of the House International Relations committee (which has jurisdiction over visa rules in the new bill), I will propose immediate changes to our current immigration policies. Specifically, I believe we must stop granting student and diversity visas to individuals from terror-sponsoring states, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba. Common sense dictates that we should not be handing out new visas to residents of the very countries that openly despise America and refuse to cooperate with our State department in fighting terrorism. Most of the criminals who carried out the September 11th attacks entered the country using student visas, so we hardly should continue to open our doors to students from places like Iraq. If we are serious about conducting a war on terrorism, we cannot simultaneously give aid and comfort to our enemies by allowing them to live in the U.S.

Congress also should urge the administration to take a hard look at some of our so-called allies in the Middle East. Several of my colleagues recently joined me in requesting that Secretary Powell add Saudi Arabia to the State department list of nations "not fully cooperating" with our anti-terrorism efforts.

Evidence that Saudi Arabia fosters and promotes terrorism is overwhelming. The majority of al-Qaeda members are Saudis, as were most of the September 11th hijackers. Indeed, most of the prisoners being held in Guantanamo hold Saudi passports. This is hardly surprising, as the nation is home to the radical Islamic Wahabbi sect- a sect that calls for the wholesale destruction of America and the West. The Saudi government clearly has played a role in incubating and spreading radical anti-Americanism throughout the Middle East, yet the administration continues to treat the Saudis as allies, largely because of our oil dependency. Congress should demand an end to this hypocrisy, and the administration should demand that Saudi Arabia stop harboring our enemies while claiming to be our friend.

Ultimately we cannot make ourselves safer simply by creating new departments, spending more taxpayer money on federal police, or sending more troops into yet another foreign land. Real homeland security requires a reexamination of our policies and priorities abroad, and a commitment to the Constitution at home.