- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Congressional defense hawks see the incoming Trump administration as a fresh start in the campaign to roll back the damage caused by the Obama White House’s “politically correct” approach to waging the global war on terror, one of the most influential Republican voices on security on Capitol Hill said Wednesday.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul outlined what he said was a tougher, more realistic policy on protecting the country, securing the borders and ensuring the national defense that would “reverse the damage of the last eight years.”

The “wait-and-see approach to national security” employed by the Obama administration has resulted in a scenario where “our allies no longer trust us and our adversaries no longer fear us,” the Texas Republican said during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. McCaul had been one of several names reportedly under consideration by Mr. Trump to head the Department of Homeland Security. On Wednesday, it emerged that retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, former U.S. Southern Command chief, will get the nod.

In his AEI remarks, billed as his “second annual” state of U.S. homeland security address, Mr. McCaul also took direct aim at President Obama’s record on countering extremist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda who are actively recruiting fighters and plotting attacks against the U.S. and its Western allies. He echoed others’ criticism that Mr. Obama and his aides have failed to understand the nature of the enemy they were facing, and repeatedly underestimated and underplayed the threat posed to the American homeland.

The Obama White House has actively refrained from using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and Mr. Obama has slammed Republican critics for attempting to paint all Muslims as sympathetic to such extremist views. In a Florida speech Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama again said that approach only played into the narrative that groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State are promoting.

But Mr. McCaul noted that over 1,000 people in the last year have been killed in terrorist attacks by the Islamic State alone, in Europe and elsewhere across the globe. The FBI also has active counterterrorism investigations in 50 states, the Texas Republican added.

With President-elect Donald Trump poised to assume the Oval Office next month, now is the time to impart “the biggest domestic counterterrorism overhaul in decades,” Mr. McCaul said.

His plan would include the “immediate suspension of all immigration from high-risk areas” such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen, while pressuring the European Union to take similar measures.

Mr. McCaul also called for revamping the U.S. visa application review process to include “social media intelligence” — information gleaned from visa applicant’s accounts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter for any indication of extremist affiliations or tendencies.

The House Homeland Security panel chief called for the creation of a national terrorism hotline where people can report suspected terrorist activities in their cities and towns, as well as a national terrorism registry.

Similar to the national sex offender registry, all individuals convicted on terrorism charges would be forced to sign up and communities would be notified if those individuals relocate to their neighborhoods.

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