Homeland Security Chairman McCaul: The war is at our doorstep

We are a nation at war, and our own city streets have once again become the frontlines.

The tragedy in Orlando is the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11, and it reminds us that nearly 15 years after that fateful day, our enemies are still dead set on attacking us—from outside and from within.

To defend the American people, we need bold leadership and strategic thinking, including a clear-eyed assessment of the danger, a vision for how to win the wider war against Islamist terror, and a willingness to take decisive action.

On each of these accounts, the Obama administration has failed.  That is why House Republicans have put forward a strong national security agenda to get us back on track.

Terror has gone viral, in part, because America failed to lead. ISIS could have been destroyed early on, but because it was not, the war has come back to our doorstep.

First, we believe that you need to define an enemy in order to defeat it.  So let’s be clear:  Our nation has been attacked by radical Islamists, and we are at war with them and the legions of extremist foot soldiers that have filled their ranks.

Sadly, the President consistently refuses to call the threat what it is, and his Administration even tried censoring references to Islamist terrorists out of the transcripts of the Orlando shooter’s 911 phone calls.

President Obama believes calling the threat by its real name demonizes an entire religion and alienates everyday Muslims that can help win this struggle.

But he is wrong, and no reasonable person should accept such threadbare logic and near-paralyzing political correctness.  America is not at war with Islam, nor have we ever claimed to be.  Rather, we are fighting radical Islamists, who have perverted a mainstream religion into a violent political movement.

Fighting back against this insidious ideology should not offend anyone but those who subscribe to it.  In fact, most American Muslims are eager to bring justice to the fanatics who are hijacking their religion to conduct unspeakable crimes.

Second, we need a vision for winning this generational struggle.  Yet again, the Administration has failed to deliver, arguing for “strategic patience” instead of laying out a plan to confront looming threats.

That is why House Republicans—led by Speaker Ryan—have proposed “A Better Way” for defending our country.

Last week we rolled out a national security strategy that spells out how we can root out terrorism in our communities and defeat extremist groups that are targeting us around the world.

We cannot afford to be reactive as the threat surges.  Radical Islamists are working to infiltrate our country—online and across borders—and have been able to increase their impact by “crowd-sourcing” terror.  In just the past two years, ISIS alone has been linked to nearly 100 plots against the West, and the United States was the top target.

Sadly, the violence has become so frequent we have begun referring to attacks by their location: Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, and now Orlando.

We must resolve to do everything in our power to keep other cities from being added to the list.

Last week the House began its legislative response to what happened in Florida, including a bill to ramp up U.S. government efforts to prevent violent extremists from luring more people down the path to terror here at home.

Our legislation would put in place measures to actively combat the propaganda of groups like ISIS and help communities spot signs of violent radicalization.

Third and finally, our country must be forward-looking about the danger and proactive in addressing it.

We know all-too-well that delay can be deadly. Terror has gone viral, in part, because America failed to lead.  ISIS could have been destroyed early on, but because it was not, the war has come back to our doorstep.

Accordingly, our country must be determined to take the fight to the enemy and to clear terrorist hotspots, no matter where they emerge.  Such sanctuaries allow radical Islamists to expand their influence, train new operatives, and plot against us.

And in the long run, America needs to focus on winning the battle of ideas by revealing the naked hypocrisy of groups like ISIS and promoting liberty and human dignity as the great alternative to repression and terror.

While radicalism may be resurgent worldwide, we still have the upper hand.  Our resilient response to the Orlando tragedy has sent a message to America’s enemies:  we will not be intimidated, and we will not allow fanatics to attack our freedoms.

That resolve will allow us to prevail over those who seek to do our country harm.