As Iran gets closer to developing a nuclear bomb and the tension with Israel increases, so too does the threat from Hezbollah, not only in the Middle East but in this hemisphere as well. Hezbollah’s finance cells in Latin America have the potential to turn operational. Such a scenario played out last year when a Quds force operative attempted to work with what he thought was a drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and blow up the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Argentina.
I have devoted much of my time in Congress to finding solutions to these problems. In delegation visits to Latin America, we discussed the use of Colombian Special Forces to work with the Mexican military. In Afghanistan and Iraq, as our presence diminishes, we discussed redeploying sensor surveillance equipment to the Southwest border. This is not only good policy, but in tough budgetary times it makes good sense.
Cyberattacks occur regularly. Iran’s recent denial-of-service attacks on Aramco in the Persian Gulf and on major banks in the United States were a coordinated effort to shut down our energy and financial sectors. At the same time, China and Russia continue to steal our intellectual property and military secrets, including blueprints for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Protecting our networks and critical infrastructure will be the greatest legislative priority for our committee in the next Congress. To achieve this, it is essential to get the requisite buy-in from the private sector to incentivize two-way threat information sharing with federal investigators.
The stakes for getting it right have never been higher. No less than our economic security and American lives are at risk. Unless we fix the DHS by rooting out corruption, instilling efficiency and boosting the morale of its 200,000 employees who go to work each day to defend our homeland, our ability to thwart the major threats against us will continue to be in jeopardy.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, will chair the Homeland Security Committee in the 113th Congress.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.