Greetings constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans.
This week began with one of those significant experiences which I know I will never forget. It was my trip to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GITMO). I was hosted by RADM Jeffrey Harbeson, Commanding Officer of Joint Task Force-GITMO, an outstanding Commanding Officer. I met several soldiers with whom I had served with in my 22-year active duty career, including Commander of the Joint Detainee Group and Colonel Donnie Thomas, an American Paratrooper and Military Police officer.
There are many misconceptions and pre-conceived notions about the detention facility at GITMO. Every American should be absolutely proud of our men and women in uniform serving at GITMO because their discipline and professionalism is above reproach.
The video footage shown on most news reels is not showing the current camps occupied in GITMO. The old Camp X-Ray, also known as Camps 1-3, is no longer in use. There are now new state-of-the-art facilities affording the detainees 21 satellite TV stations, access to Skype and cell phone, mail, bountiful food, up to 20 hours of communal living (I toured an active communal living block), and medical care.
In contrast, I think of our own American Warriors such as Lieutenant Michael Behenna who is serving 15 years in Fort Leavenworth prison for killing a known Al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq. I also consider the plight of young Army Private Corey Claggett who has been held in solitary confinement for over a year. The conditions at Fort Leavenworth are not nearly as comfortable. Something else that deeply angers me…at GITMO, 24-year-old Omar Khadr will serve one more year before being released to his native Canada, even though he was found “guilty” of five war crimes, including killing an American serviceman in Afghanistan. Upon release to Canada, the maximum time he will serve is seven years. What message does that send to our men and women in uniform?
At the end of my GITMO visit, I asked the delegation, “Are the individuals being held here at GITMO criminals or enemy combatants? If they are enemy combatants, are they lawful or unlawful combatants?”
The silence was telling.
I again posed the question with a vignette. Was the individual who opened fire on the US Air Force bus at a Frankfurt, Germany airport killing two United States Airmen and wounding two others, a criminal or an enemy combatant? I even asked, “What do you charge the person with who is captured laying an Improvised Explosive Device?”
Herein lays the seminal question which has to be answered if we are to understand the 21st century battlefield. These non-state, non-uniform, belligerents who do not openly declare nor carry their arms are UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANTS and not deserving of any rights under the Geneva Convention. However, out of our Western civilization benevolence, we treat them humanely and rightly so. Still, I will not consent to offering constitutional rights to these creatures of abject evil.
I watched the news this week as 15 Somalis who executed four Americans were led into court in Norfolk, Virginia. These “gents” should have never set foot on American soil; they should find their home at GITMO. It is a sad day when the mastermind of the embassy bombings in Africa gets convicted not for murder, but for destruction of government property.
Something else to note… the “underwear bomber” has been confirmed trained by a released GITMO detainee in Yemen. Did you know 53 percent of the GITMO occupants are Yemeni?
As long as I am an elected official and my words matter, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shall remain open, and be the permanent residence for those captured on this present battlefield.
I am proud to announce my first piece of legislation that I am sponsoring, the “Global Combat Zone Recognition Act.” The legislation will allow American service members attacked simply because in uniform- regardless of where the attack happened, are offered the same benefits and treatment as those who are attacked on the battlefield.
The major pieces of legislation which I voted for this week were HR 830 (FHA Refinance Program Termination Act, passed 256-177) and HR 836 (Emergency Homeowner Relief Program Termination, passed 242-177)…..for reference, the US House of Representatives has 241 Republicans, 192 Democrats, one two seat unfilled=435.
HR 830 would permanently rescind and cancel all unexpended balances, currently $8B, made available under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (TARP). HR 836 would permanently rescind and cancel all unobligated balances under section 1496(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, reducing federal budget deficits by $840M over the next ten years. This program according to the FY 2012 President’s budget proposal has a 98% subsidy rate.
We must continue to reduce the size and scope of the federal government in order to create the conditions for economic recovery and job growth. This is a simple premise seemingly lost on my Democrat colleagues.
The political rhetoric surrounding empty emotional fear mongering has become the standard means of protest from the liberals. When I constantly hear their “pleas” for the poor and middle class I wonder how much did that matter when they rammed insidious legislation down the throats of the American people resulting in record setting deficits, debt, and unemployment rates?
The liberal progressive agenda is nothing more than a dishonest tyranny trying to reduce our citizens into subservient subjects of the bureaucratic nanny-state. The statist agenda is not about caring, it is about caretaking, and that is not in concert with our American principles. Therefore, as we go forward and we hear more about how Republicans hate women, how Republicans are not creating jobs, how Republicans are going to hurt Grandma….just see this for what it is, the diatribe of a losing philosophy which seeks enslavement, not empowerment- servitude and restraint, and not freedom and liberty.
Here are some other highlights of my week;
– Tuesday: I met with the Jewish Federation leadership from Palm Beach and Broward Counties, led by Dr. Luis Fleischman and Ms. Pepi Dunay. We discussed the national security priorities and domestic issues concerning the represented Jewish community. I also had a visit from Mr. Lee Kichen of the VFW and we discussed their legislative priorities- which as a veteran myself, I have a personal interest in.
– Wednesday: I gave a three minute address to the National Federation of Republican Women. The theme was “Women of Sparta.”
I met with Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE, a group which provides volunteer mentoring and counseling services for small businesses across America. We have several SCORE chapters in CD-22 which we shall link up with in order to enhance the development of South Florida small businesses.
I also met with Colonel Mark Czelusta, USAF, Commanding Officer of a C-130 training wing at Little Rock AFB, a native of Juno Beach, Fla.
– Thursday: The day began with a “Meet and Greet” breakfast with Defense Industry representatives. One of the attendees was retired Army General Leo Brooks. I first met him as COL Brooks, Commander of 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82d Airborne Division, and he became a mentor to a young Paratrooper Major…me.
Also Thursday I met with both Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes from the esteemed periodical “The Weekly Standard.” They are both awesome men and preeminent conservative thinkers.
The day ended with a live interview with Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto.
– Friday: A big House Armed Services Committee day for me. I offered myself as a mentor for a young Army officer who is doing a fellowship on the Hill, a decorated combat veteran Army Aviator. He is a stellar, bright Captain who represents all that is great about America.
We had two Armed Services sub-committee hearings; Defense health program efficiencies initiatives and Defense counter-proliferation strategy.
I appeared on the Washington Watch program with Roland Martin where I was told that I was only the second Republican ever to agree to appear on his show.
Saturday: Back in the district, I conducted my regular early morning Fort Lauderdale beach run, an easy 9 miles which brought the weekly total to just over 30 miles. The West family then walked in the Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick’s Day parade. What a beautiful day.
In closing, just wanted to share this funny story. Wednesday, I called around to some of the newly elected Mayors in CD-22, one was Mayor-elect Muoio of West Palm Beach, her number ended in “0491.” Well, I mistakenly dialed “0461” and upon the call, introduced myself. That was when the shock came, I had dialed the wrong number and the person on the other line stated, “This cannot be Allen West.”After apologizing and confirming it was me, the woman confided how much she admired our efforts and how her young 4th grader son looked up to me.
I asked if she would put her son on the line and we chatted for a few minutes and I made him a simple promise.
Therefore, this Sunday I have a special date, with young Master Joseph Rouijel and his Mother, Ms. Jessica Georg for a cheeseburger. We will meet at an appropriately named place, “Grease Burger Bar” in West Palm Beach.
Steadfast and Loyal,