(CNSNews.com) - House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said Thursday that “we are in the highest threat environment” he has seen since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
McCaul made the statement at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and moderated by Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, where House Republicans released their national security plans.
“I would say we are in the highest threat environment I have seen since 9/11,” McCaul said while speaking on a panel with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
McCaul has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005 and prior to that served as a federal prosecutor and deputy attorney general in Texas, according to the 2008 edition of the Almanac of American Politics. “In 2002,” the almanac says, “he joined the U.S. Attorney's office and was chief of the Terrorism and National Security Section for Western Texas.”
Here is a transcript of part of McCaul’s remarks:
“National security, I think, is the number one responsibility under the Constitution. I would say we are in the highest threat environment I have seen since 9/11. And, as you mentioned, the airports—last-point-of-departure airports—are a serious concern. I just returned from Cairo, Egypt, to look at that airport. We have daily flights into JFK. That concerns me.
There are many last-point-of-departure airports that are not secure, and we know that al Qaeda and ISIS are very intent on putting bombs onto airplanes as we saw with the Russian jetliner. We don’t know for sure now about the Egyptian airliner. But we know al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is still very focused.
So, what our blue print calls for is beefing up of security at last point of departure airports, better vetting, better screening at the airports. You know, homeland security is really about a couple of things: It is identifying the threats and keeping them outside of this country whether they be bad people or bad things—terrorists or potentially weapons of mass destruction. And, so, this is highly important.
You mentioned the border, I think the border applies as well. We need a secure border to stop potential terrorists from entering the nation.
We know that ISIS in Dabiq Magazine talked about taking a Pakistan nuclear weapon and smuggling it across the U.S.-Mexico border. So, all these components are vitally important to protecting Americans here at home.