CHESTERTOWN, MD — U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today told Washington College students that he supported an extension of the PATRIOT Act with greater congressional oversight, “because while our first duty is to protect our nation from a terrorist attack, we also must be mindful of the challenge we face protecting Americans against terrorism while also safeguarding civil liberties.”
Senator Cardin’s address today was part of Washington College’s Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, named after the late Louis L. Goldstein who served as Comptroller of Maryland from 1959-1998.
Senator Cardin, chair of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also talked about the attempted Christmas attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The terrorist suspect ignited a device that failed to explode but injured Mr. Abdulmutallab and two other passengers.
“Thankfully disaster was averted due to the heroic actions of passengers on Flight 253, but the suspect should never have been allowed to board that flight in the first place, and his boarding was a direct result of a failure to share appropriate information by different intelligence agencies. While we have come a long way since 9/11 in terms of gathering intelligence, we clearly have more to do in terms of coordinating our intelligence and actions to prevent a terrorist threat.”
The Senator also has called for much greater coordination among agencies responsible for protecting Americans from the threats of cyber-attacks and bioterrorism. Last fall, the Senator chaired a subcommittee hearing to examine the executive branch’s current efforts to strengthen and improve biosecurity and biosafety at laboratories. He also chaired another hearing to review governmental and private-sector efforts to prevent a terrorist cyber-attack on our nation.
“Our nation faces a serious threat from our enemies who are committed to destroying our nation and all it stands for” said Senator Cardin. “We must not forget that they are constantly searching for ways to disrupt our governmental and business operations and we must be prepared for the next generation of attacks, which could come in the form of bio-terrorism or cyber-attacks.”