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Corker: Alignment of ‘Full Range of America’s Elements of National Power’ Needed for Success Against ISIS

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 26, 2015:

WASHINGTON – At a hearing yesterday on the fight against ISIS, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized the importance of a cohesive U.S. strategy for success in confronting the terrorist organization as Congress considers President Obama’s request for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

“[W]e owe it to our nation as we consider this to know that the full range of America’s elements of national power, diplomatic, economic, and military means are aligned in such a way to get to the administration’s stated goals,” said Corker in his opening statement.

In questioning General John R. Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (or ISIS), Senator Corker asked whether the AUMF will need to allow for the protection of U.S.-trained forces in Syria if they are attacked by the Assad regime.

“In the event that we needed to protect those that we’re training and equipping and other members of the Free Syrian Army…against Assad barrel bombing them, do you believe…that needs an additional authority other than what is now being requested?” Corker asked.

General Allen responded by saying, “My hope is that we’d be able to provide the kind of protection that they need and they deserve within the authorization that we’re currently proposing.”

During a separate hearing yesterday with Secretary of State John Kerry testifying before the committee, Senator Corker pressed the Obama administration to make a commitment to protect the force that the U.S. is preparing to retake territory from ISIS in Syria.

“If we’re not willing to protect them, it speaks to the fact that the administration doesn’t really seem serious about taking ISIS on as it relates to Syria,” said Corker in questioning Secretary Kerry.

Secretary Kerry recognized “defending those who are engaged in the fight of ISIL…is an important part of defeating ISIL” but acknowledged “the president hasn’t made a final decision on that.”

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Members of TN Congressional Delegation Respond to Obama Seeking AUMF Against ISIS

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker; R-Tenn.; February 11, 2015:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement about President Barack Obama’s proposed authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS that was submitted to Congress today. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has jurisdiction over AUMF legislation.

“I appreciate the president following the long tradition of seeking authorization for the use of military force from Congress,” said Corker. “It also will be important that the president exert leadership, lay out a clear strategy for confronting the threat posed by ISIS, and do the hard work of making the case to the American people why this fight is necessary and one we must win. We will quickly begin to hold rigorous hearings where the administration will have an opportunity to provide Congress and the American people greater clarity on the U.S. strategy to address ISIS, particularly in Syria. Voting to authorize the use of military force is one of the most important actions Congress can take, and while there will be differences, it is my hope that we will fulfill our constitutional responsibility, and in a bipartisan way, pass an authorization that allows us to confront this serious threat.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. 01; February 11, 2015:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) released the following statement regarding President Obama’s request for Congress to authorize use of military force against the Islamic State:

“The Islamic State is a radical terrorist organization with every intention of bringing their heinous acts of terror to our homeland. We must address this serious threat and act pragmatically and deliberately to eliminate this evil. As is the case with any matter regarding war and peace, before I can support any authorization for use of military force, I must see a clear, strategic plan that includes an exit strategy. I am carefully considering the president’s proposal and I am hopeful we can work together to stop these murderers in their tracks.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn. 02; February 11, 2015:

WASHINGTON – Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. released the following statement Wednesday in response to President Obama’s request for use of military force against ISIS:

I am reviewing the Authorization for Use of Military Force draft very closely and keeping watch for any changes to it that will likely occur in the coming days.

If we do have to go to war against ISIS, we need to get in and get it over with and not drag it out for 13 or 14 years like the Afghanistan war.

I do believe most of the fighting in the Middle East should be done by men and women from those countries.  I don’t want to see young Americans killed in what is thus far a regional civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

These ISIS fanatics are probably the most evil, hate-filled people in this world.

If any American goes to fight with them, they should have their citizenship immediately revoked.  If any of them try to do anything to people in the United States, they should be given the death penalty without delay.

Press release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. 03; February 11, 2015:

WASHINGTON− Today, President Obama sent his formal request for Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS to Congress. In response, Rep. Chuck Fleischmannreleased the following statement.

“The combination of the rapid growth and barbaric violence employed by ISIS poses one of the greatest modern threats to the US, our allies, and global security and stability. We must learn from our past experiences and adapt our military strategy to deal with the evolving threats we face today. The President took the proper step in requesting an AUMF from Congress to take any substantial action against ISIS but he must outline and justify the force he plans to use.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburtn, R-Tenn. 07; February 11, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s request for Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL.

“The President’s request for an AUMF is one that should not be taken lightly or considered without doing the due diligence that such a request requires. The House will proceed in the appropriate manner to review the strategy that would be implemented by such an order and the objectives set forth that our military would be required to achieve. As we proceed through this process, I will continue to visit with our military commanders and seek their input and guidance. ISIL poses a growing threat. We must have a plan to eliminate them.”

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Alexander, Corker Call on White House to Address U.S. Passport Holders Joining ISIS

Press release from the Office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander; September 11, 2014:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), today led a group of 14 senators in sending a letter to State Department Secretary John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson requesting more information and calling on the administration to provide a plan for dealing with the large number of U.S. and visa waiver country passport holders suspected of fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist organizations. The administration has expressed concern about these individuals, but has yet to provide a clear and comprehensive plan for tracking and preventing them from traveling to the U.S. to potentially carry out terrorist acts.

“We write today to encourage you to take immediate action to prevent U.S. and western country passport holders fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Jabat al-Nusra or other terrorist organizations from traveling to the U.S. to commit acts of terrorism against the homeland,” wrote the senators.

On September 3, 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated that the U.S. government is aware of “over 100 U.S. citizens who have U.S. passports who are fighting in the Middle East with ISIS forces.” The following day the Pentagon clarified that approximately 100 American passport holders are operating inside of Syria and roughly one dozen of those individuals are fighting alongside ISIS. Reports also indicate that hundreds of additional westerners have joined the ranks of ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra, and other terrorist organizations in that region.

In addition to Senators Corker, Thune and Alexander, the letter was signed by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Full text of the letter to Secretary Kerry and Secretary Johnson is included below or available online here.

Secretary Kerry and Secretary Johnson,

We write today to encourage you to take immediate action to prevent U.S. and western country passport holders fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Jabat al-Nusra or other terrorist organizations from traveling to the U.S. to commit acts of terrorism against the homeland.

On September 3, 2014, Secretary Hagel stated that the U.S. government is aware of “over 100 U.S. citizens who have U.S. passports who are fighting in the Middle East with ISIS forces.” The following day the Pentagon clarified that approximately 100 American passport holders are operating inside of Syria and roughly one dozen of those individuals are fighting alongside ISIS. Reports also indicate that hundreds of additional westerners have joined the ranks of ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra, and other terrorist organizations in that region. According to the administration, “there is significant concern about the idea that some of these individuals may try to travel back to the west using their western passports and carry out acts of violence or engage in terrorism here.”

According to media reports, two American passport holders were recently killed in Syria while fighting in support of ISIS. The State Department also confirmed in May that an American citizen was involved in a suicide bombing in Syria. We agree that the prospect of U.S. citizens and other westerners being trained as terrorists in Syria and returning home to carry out terrorist acts is a real threat to the homeland and must be addressed using every available tool of the federal government.

Under the provisions of 22 CFR Section 51.60(c)(4), the Secretary of State may revoke a U.S. passport if “the Secretary determines that the applicant’s activities abroad are causing or are likely to cause serious damage to the national security or the foreign policy of the United States.” Additionally, through the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center the FBI maintains the No Fly List by which known or suspected terrorists are prohibited from boarding a commercial aircraft that departs from or arrives in the U.S. We encourage you to use these authorities, as well as all available law enforcement and intelligence tools, as appropriate, to stop ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra fighters and other dangerous individuals from traveling to the United States to commit acts of terrorism.

Accordingly, please address the following questions:

1. How many individuals fighting alongside ISIS, or Jabat al-Nusra fighters or other terrorist organizations are projected to have passports from the U.S. or visa waiver countries?
2. What actions are being taken to engage visa waiver countries to track and account for individuals fighting alongside ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra or other terrorist organizations operating in this region who hold passports that provide access to the U.S.?
3. What specific information are you seeking from visa waiver countries to ensure that no individuals with ties to terrorism can enter the United States?
4. What visa waiver countries have satisfied all U.S. requests for information and which countries are refusing to provide you all requested information on their citizens suspected of having travelled to Syria to fight with ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra or other terrorist organizations?
5. What is the administration’s plan for ensuring that these individuals who have traveled abroad with American or other western passports and have actively supported ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra or other terrorist organizations are being monitored, and when appropriate, are being prevented from entering the U.S. or being prosecuted for aiding these groups when they attempt to do so?
6. What is the administration’s strategy for identifying, monitoring, and intercepting individuals living in the U.S. and influenced by ISIS’s social media from traveling abroad to join ISIS and other groups and engage in acts of terror?

We thank you for your immediate consideration of this request, and we look forward to continuing working with you to keep Americans safe both at home and abroad.

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Ketron Receives Nat’l Security Award for Work to Prevent Homegrown Terrorism

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; September 11, 2014:

WASHINGTON, DC, September 11, 2014 – – State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will be awarded the National Security Eagle Award by ACT! for America at an event tonight in Washington DC. Ketron is set to receive the national honor at the organization’s fifth annual national conference which will be attended by members from 875 chapters from across the nation, in addition to 9-11 family members and American wounded warriors.

ACT! for America is the nation’s largest national security movement with over 280,000 active grassroots members from various political parties and religions. It is an issues advocacy organization dedicated to effectively organizing and mobilizing the most powerful grassroots citizen action network in America.

Ketron sponsored Tennessee’s “Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011” to cut off the support for terrorists who are planning to commit acts in Tennessee and curb the incidence of homegrown terrorism. He filed the bill in the wake of homegrown terrorist shootings at Fort Hood, Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas, which targeted U.S. soldiers.

Recently it was reported that as many as 300 Americans are fighting alongside ISIS, the most radical group of jihadists who claimed responsibility for the beheading of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

“Homegrown terrorism remains a tremendous threat to the U.S.,” said Senator Ketron. “Recent developments continue to show that this threat is not only real, but can happen in any state, any town and any community. I appreciate this recognition from ACT! and will continue to work for the safety and security of our citizens. The 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack should continue to serve as a reminder to all Americans that we can never let our guard down as there are those who are willing to hide behind innocent citizens to reign down terror on this nation.”

Ketron will also attend a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Pentagon’s 9-11 Memorial on Friday.