As the September 11th attacks made clear, foreign enemies do not heed borders. As a major international gateway, New York has also been one of the most frequent targets of those who would threaten our way of life. From radical extremists to organized criminals and drug smugglers, dangerous groups try to use the openness and diversity of our state against us. I am working hard to give law enforcement organizations the resources that they need to keep us safe. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
, I also try to minimize the side effects of legitimate surveillance efforts on the lives of regular people. A secure society should not come at the expense of the personal freedoms we are trying to protect.
Not all of our efforts towards public safety are directed at Al-Qaeda. As New York’s Senator, I try to apply federal resources more routine local problems as well. Staunching the flow of unregistered weapons into our neighborhoods is one priority.
I recently helped areas of the North Country region become part of a Drug Enforcement Agency High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
. This designation will give additional federal resources to local police in the region and bring a larger number of border patrol and DEA agents. In recent years, smugglers have made the North Country a staging point for illegal drug distribution. A particularly outrageous technique involves filling small planes with drugs and skimming the tree tops to evade radar as they cross the U.S.-Canadian border. I am working to bring military-grade radar to the region. Field tests in Washington State
showed that the radar allows federal agents to put a quick stop to this type of drug smuggling.
Because New York City has been a top target for foreign terrorists, I am working to make sure that the Urban Area Security Initiative
receives a major increase in funding. UASI funds the Lower Manhattan and Midtown Security Initiative, which operates a series of surveillance cameras and license plate readers. These devices are linked to a system which helps detect patterns of suspicious activity often seen during terrorist attacks.
Last year, terrorists tried unsuccessfully to detonate a car bomb in Times Square. This attempted bombing highlights the unique risks faced by our nation’s largest city. Because the New York Metro Area is so frequently in the crosshairs of our enemies, I believe that formulas for distributing Homeland Security dollars should be adjusted to our level of exposure. Funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative is one place where this can happen. I am lobbying hard for New York to receive 25% of all UASI funding in the next budget. The President’s proposed budget for the upcoming year allocates $920 million for this vital program. Based on previous funding formulas, New York could be in line to receive $165.6 million in funding, which would be a $14.6 million increase over the FY2010 enacted levels. I’m also fighting for millions of additional dollars for Transportation Security and Port Security Grants
that will protect our cities.
I have also consistently fought to bring money to New York to guard against terror attacks through the Securing the Cities (STC)
initiative, a federally-funded effort to protect New York City from the threat of a makeshift nuclear device or a radiological dispersal device, also known as a dirty bomb. After Congressional appropriators attempted to cut funding to STC, I pushed to have funding restored and secured $20 million dollars for the program in 2010. This critical investment ensures that the more than $73 million already invested in the program by U.S. taxpayers will not be wasted, law enforcement institutions will have the resources to prevent a terrorist attack, and that vital infrastructure, such as bridges and tunnels, will be protected from the threat of an enemy nuclear attack.
Additionally, after the discovery of the Pakistan Taliban‘s connection to the failed plot to detonate a car bomb in Manhattan's Times Square in early May, I sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the State Department to blacklist the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban, as an official foreign terrorist organization. I went on to lead the legislative effort to blacklist the Pakistani Taliban, by introducing a bill that would automatically designate the Pakistani Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization. In September, the State Department yielded to my request and designated the Pakistani Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)
under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
. This designation automatically triggered U.S. government action such as freezing the group's assets, keeping its members out of the U.S., and making fundraising and other assistance to the group a federal crime.