Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who has been briefed on the Paris attack as a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the latest terrorist attack just underscores “that we are in a new time and we cannot fight wars as we did in the Revolutionary War.”
“We need sophisticated tools, we need better intelligence and we need some of the resources that would allow us to penetrate some of these cells or individual actions,” she told MSNBC today.
Jackson Lee also took a dig at the lone-wolf excuse, adding, “I frankly believe that we cannot use an excuse that these are franchise terrorists and how could we possibly know what they’re doing.”
“I don’t want to use that excuse anymore on behalf of the American people or, in fact, in fighting global terrorism. So we have to be able to frame a pathway forward with our international allies as to how we weed out the likes of those who did that devastating deed yesterday,” she said.
But, the congresswoman said, that doesn’t mean returning to “the concepts of torture that we oppose.”
“We can define and design a sophisticated, penetrating vetting out of these individuals because of the vast utilization of the Internet, conversation, dialogue, family members, neighborhoods. We just need to, in essence, enhance our investigatory assets and realize that we can’t sit down on the job. We’ve got to be constant and vigilant to find and weed out individual franchise terrorists like these young men were, as well as those in Australia and as well as those in Canada.”
Jackson Lee said U.S. and French intelligence officials will converse more about what happened. “These are perpetrators that have already done a devastating deed, but more importantly, if it deals with those who have intent, then we have some lax and some latitude, if you will, on making sure that we prevent the terrorist act,” she said.
“But we don’t want innocent Americans to be entrapped by laws that we place when they are making conversations that are innocent conversations that happen to be dealing with individuals who may have different thoughts than what we have. We can find the balance, but what I will say is we can make no excuses that we cannot penetrate these random terrorist acts before they occur. We’ve got to turn a sophisticated direction to do that and to stop them.”
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said there were challenges for the French in monitoring brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, 32 and 34. Cherif had previously served time for aiding al-Qaeda in Iraq.
“He was under surveillance and he fell off the radar screen, not unlike Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber. So, I mean, the fact is there are about 5,000 potential jihadists in France right now, and it’s very difficult to monitor that volume, that number of people, that you’re concerned about. And it’s very unfortunate,” McCaul told Fox.
“All I can tell you about that right now is we do have the names of the individuals and they are running the names through the databases. And that takes — a vetting process. So we’re finding out all we can about these individuals,” he added. “Obviously, what we’re concerned about with respect to the homeland are any connections they may have to a wider cell or a plot that could take place not only in Western Europe, but the United States.”