Santa Clarita's representative sits down with KHTS to discuss the latest terrorist attack, and what he thinks our country should be doing.
Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, was touring the district this week when he took a few moments to visit KHTS and discuss his take on our current national security threat.
The discussion comes in the wake of the failed bombing attempt onboard a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas day by a Nigerian man. President Obama lamented the security breach, and TSA rules were promptly tightened.
Even though the terrorist was unable to detonate the bomb, McKeon subscribes to the though that he, overall, succeeded in his mission.
"That was a successful terrorist attack, I don't care what they're going to call it," he said. "The disruption that it has put into our airline system around the world...if that detonator had worked, those three hundred people would have been killed in the airplane, and I don't know how many people on the ground would have been killed. It was very well planned and carried out, and we blew it."
Part of the problem in our security system, according to Congressman McKeon, is how we deal with potential terrorists.
"When they secured [the Nigerian bomber] on the ground, he started talking to authorities. Then we treat it like a criminal case instead of a war case, and instead of getting information from him, we turned him over to the justice system, which let him lawyer up. Now he's clammed up and we're not getting information. There could have been other guys in the air, there could have been other guys waiting to get on planes."
How our country handles proven terrorists is also changing. One of President Obama's campaign promises was to close Guantanamo Bay, where hundreds of detainees are being held while they await military trial. The administration is now looking into options for future housing locations for the detainees, and Attorney General Eric Holder is preparing to try five people suspected of contributing to the success of the 9/11 attacks in criminal court in New York City.
"I don't want to see any of these detainees brought into this country [because] I don't want to see the potential of them causing any damage," McKeon told KHTS. "At a time when we have these huge deficits, to talk about spending over a half-billion dollars to build and maintain a prison in Illinois, and that's not even counting what it's going to cost to try these five people in New York, it's just ludicrous."
He continued; "When the President says it's systemic...it's not systemic. We're at war against terror. And if we don't start getting serious about it, we're going to have some real problems."
McKeon said he was pleased with what he saw the Guantanamo Bay facility, which he toured last year.
"What I saw in Guantanamo was some soldiers doing a very professional job of taking care of those detainees," McKeon said. "The security there is superb, and they've built the latest up-to-date courthouse where they can try these detainees."
On a positive note, yesterday's decision by the White House to stop sending detainees to Yemen was praised by McKeon.
"While Yemen is an ally to the United States and our efforts to strengthen and professionalize the Yemeni military should continue, it is clear that we can no longer have confidence that the Yemeni government has the capacity to assist the United States in providing the high level of security our citizens' require and deserve," McKeon wrote in a statement released to the media.
McKeon will likely be a large part of the national security debate once back in Washington D.C. next week.