07.13.12

Legislative Update from Senator Richard Burr

Preventing Leaks About Covert Actions to Protect American Lives and Missions

This week, I introduced a bill that I never thought would be necessary, but unfortunately, leaks of confidential information about American covert actions have become so common and pose such a threat to our national security that I was forced to introduce legislation to combat it. Such reckless disclosures of top-secret information compromise our national security, jeopardize the work of our intelligence officers and overseas partners, and risk innocent lives.

As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am privy to sensitive information about our national security that I have both a moral and a legal obligation to keep secret. Recently, however, it seems as though some individuals with similar access to information have chosen to pursue their own personal agenda over the interest of the American people. This must be stopped. My bill would revoke the security clearance of any individual who discloses information about United States covert action programs. I am disappointed that a bill like this is even necessary, but those who leak information about covert actions should no longer be trusted with our nation's secrets. On Tuesday, I spoke about this critical issue on the Senate floor. Click here to watch a video of that floor speech.

On Friday, a letter I wrote about this issue ran in the Raleigh News & Observer. It is unfortunate that some have a hard time differentiating between transparency of information that could be embarrassing to the government and leaks of information about ongoing covert actions that threatens the lives and the missions of our servicemembers, intelligence officers, and allies who are defending our nation and keeping us safe.

Bill to Designate Haqqani Network a Terrorist Organization

Also on Tuesday, I was glad to join several of my colleagues on the Intelligence Committee in cosponsoring a bill to designate the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization. The most lethal component of the Taliban, the Haqqanis are a violent extremist group who have perpetrated deadly attacks on U.S. forces and innocent Afghan civilians. Their size, resources, experience, and well organized execution of attacks make them an extremely dangerous group and a threat to American and global security.

This is a group who routinely targets civilians and uses murder as an intimidation tactic against the Afghan people, and they have mounted numerous armed assaults and suicide attacks on civilians and U.S. forces with deadly effectiveness. By designating the group as a terrorist organization, the United States can more actively pursue them, limit their financial, property, and travel interests, and limit the ability of foreign governments to provide them with aid.

The Haqqanis have been responsible for many high profile attacks recently including a September 10, 2011 truck bombing that injured 77 U.S. troops, a September 13, 2011 attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul in which nine people were killed, and, most recently, a June 22, 2012 attack on a civilian hotel in Afghanistan that left 20 people dead.

Vote on Temporary Tax Credit Bill

On Thursday, the Senate voted on cloture on a bill that would give a one year temporary tax credit to businesses. Upon moving to this bill on Wednesday night, Majority Leader Reid used a parliamentary tactic known as "filling the tree" to prevent any amendments from being made to the bill, and he ended debate four minutes after the Senate had taken up the measure. This is wrong - to not allow debate and discussion on any legislation, let alone legislation involving taxes, is almost as irresponsible as the bill itself, which would merely kick the can down the road when it comes to providing certainty and predictability about tax rates for Americans and small businesses.

Our economy is rapidly approaching a "Fiscal Cliff," and unless Congress acts, on January 1, 2013, every American will experience a perfect storm of unprecedented tax increases and automatic cuts to spending across the board, on everything from defense to Medicare. Temporary band-aid measures and gimmicks that sound good in talking points but do nothing to help the economy create jobs are not the solution - they only make our dire fiscal situation worse and would delay our economic recovery. I believe most Americans want to see leadership for tackling the severe budget problems and debt we face in a permanent way, and we should do that with a full and honest debate about our priorities.