Homeland security has become the defining question of American politics since the September 11th attacks; how to defend our nation against terrorism is rightly regarded as the highest national priority for any President. Senator Snowe has previously served on the Senate Armed Services committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and has been on the leading edge of reforming America’s defenses to face the threats we face in the new millennium.
- Introduced legislation to improve coastal security, the Transparent Sea Act, “to permit the Coast Guard to know at all times who is on America’s waters, what cargo they are carrying, and where they are going“. (Weekly Update newsletter, 2/1/2002)
- Spoke out in favor of intelligence sharing between agencies as early as 1993:“I saw firsthand the consequences of serious inadequacies in coordination and communication during my 12 years as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs International Operations Subcommittee and chair of the subcommittee’s Senate counterpart.
Access to the FBI’s NCIC system by the State Department is a first step, and one that I advocated in 1993, after the Justice Department ruled that because the State Department was not a “law enforcement agency”, it no longer had free access to the NCIC. Tellingly, after ruling, the visa denial rate for past criminal activities plunged a remarkable 45 percent—stark evidence that we can’t afford to tie the hands of America’s overseas line of defense against terrorism.
Although my legislation designated the State Department a “law enforcement agency” for purposes of accessing the NCIC when processing any visa application, whether immigrant or nonimmigrant, a revised provision enacted in 1994 only provided the State Department with free access for purposes of processing immigrant visas, dropping my requirement for the non-immigrant visas eventually used by all 19 suspected hijackers.“ (Congressional Record, 10/21/2001, pp.11052)
- “[I]f knowledge is power, we are only as strong as the weakest link in our information network. Therefore, we must ensure that the only ‘‘turf war’’ will be the one to protect American turf.“ (Ibid.)
- “Many of our greatest victories will be measured by the attacks that never happen, in battles we win before they ever have a name, in conflicts we prevent before they ever claim one American life.“ (Ibid., p.11053)
- Warned against shipment of nuclear materials to Iran for years: introduced legislation to censure Russia, should Russia “[continue] with a commercial agreement to provide Iran with nuclear technology which would assist that country in its development of nuclear weapons“.
- Recognized and introduced legislation, six years before 9/11, to close loopholes enabling members of terrorist organizations to travel to the United States if not personally implicated in terrorist activities:“Under current law, a visa can be denied to a known member of a terrorist organization only if the United States has compelling evidence that the individual was personally involved in a past terrorist act or if it is known that the person is coming to the United States to conduct such an act. Current law requires extraordinary steps to override the presumption that mere membership in a terrorist group is not grounds for denying a visa. High-level determination is required by the Secretary of State that permitting entry of the individual will be damaging to American foreign policy interests.
My legislation will reverse that presumption. Under this bill, a known member of a group that conducts acts of terrorism will be excluded from the United States unless the Secretary of State determines on an individual basis that granting the visa would advance U.S. foreign policy interests“. (Congressional Record, 2/2/1995, p. S2064)
- Strongly opposes single-sourcing by the Pentagon, which would undercut US national security:“It is totally contrary to our national security interest (and) it is inconsistent (with) the kind of industrial infrastructure we need to support our military.“ (One shipyard for destroyers not in nation’s interest, Portland Press-Herald, 2/28/2005)
- An early supporter of the creation of a single National Intelligence Director.