Legislators weigh in on terrorism fight

BY JIM TURNER
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE – Hawks in the Florida Legislature want Congress to fully declare the nation is at war with global Islamic terrorists.

The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee on Monday unanimously backed a proposal (SM 1710) that urges Congress and President Barack Obama to authorize the use of military force against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “and all other global Islamic terrorist organizations that similarly engage in acts of terrorism.”

“With all of the power that we have, as the greatest nation in the world, and with the threats that come across, whether it would be in our computers, whether it be bombings in other nations or other countries, ultimately it’s moving closer to us,” said Sen. Greg Evers, a Baker Republican and the measure’s sponsor.

‘Memorial’ proposal
Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, while noting that the U.S. already is using force against those groups, questioned if the government can declare war on groups rather than nations. But Committee Chairman Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, responded, “that’s the different world we live in today.”

The proposal is what is known as a “memorial,” which has no binding authority but expresses the opinion of the Legislature.

The memorial points to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington organized and financed by al-Qaeda and the Nov. 13 attacks across Paris that left 129 people dead. ISIL claimed to have coordinated the Paris attacks, along with other attacks in Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and France.

Obama has drafted requests to Congress to authorize the use of military force on two occasions, in February 2015 and in December, days after what appeared to be an Islamic State-inspired attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

Congress and Obama have not been able to reach agreement. Obama has authorized action against ISIL through a 2001 law designed to combat al-Qaeda and people behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attack.

Rules panel next
Evers said Congress and Obama need to be on the same page when it comes to fighting terrorism.
Evers said by including “all global Islamic terrorist groups” in the request to Congress, regardless of what nation they’re operating within, the memorial is intended to be “as broad or as narrow as it needs to be.”

“We have experts in our military that would be able to pick and choose where they need to go,” Evers said. “The terrorists, they’re not picking and choosing, they’re destroying equally wherever they go.”

The memorial must still go before the Rules Committee to reach the Senate floor.

The House version of Evers’ proposal (HM 1319) by Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, awaits an appearance on the House floor after having received unanimous support from the Local & Federal Affairs and State Affairs committees.

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