An Interview With Rep. Sue Myrick (R), North Carolina District 9
by RUTH KING
December 20, 2010
Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina has been a principled and independent critic of previous administrations since she came to Congress in 1995, after building a successful advertising and public relations business, and serving for two terms as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Long before the Tea Parties ignited a challenge to the Obama administration and liberal legislators, Sue Myrick, now in her eighth term, was a forceful conservative voice in energy, immigration and national security issues. She was among the first legislators to alert Americans to the threats of radical Islam and Jihad.
Rep. Myrick serves on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, the oldest legislative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, with broad legislative responsibility in public health, energy, telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, air quality, environmental health and interstate and foreign commerce. In addition their jurisdiction extends over five Cabinet level departments and other independent agencies. In the 112th Congress, she will serve as Vice Chair of the Committee.
In 2009, Sue Myrick was selected by House Leadership to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Intelligence Committee has jurisdiction over the Intelligence community, including intelligence-related activities of the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency, and other agencies of the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Departments of State, Justice, and Treasury.
Most recently, she alerted Homeland Security, Congress and the media to the presence of Hezbollah on our Southern border and called for a taskforce to investigate the issue.
A strong and secure nation is Sue Myrick’s priority. She has 12 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. They must all be very proud of her.
It is a pleasure to interview one of our nation’s best legislators.
RK: You serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Do you favor domestic exploration of oil? Do you favor more nuclear energy?
SR: Yes to both. Right now, we send billions of dollars a year to countries – many that don’t like us – for their oil. Why are we doing this when we have domestic energy resources available here? Exploration and drilling will create jobs, lower the cost of oil, and make us less dependent on foreign sources. Additionally, if we want to produce energy with lower carbon emissions, we must bring nuclear energy to the table. France already produces a majority of its energy via nuclear sources. Again, it’s emissions free, and creates jobs. We can’t snap our fingers and make an overnight transition to green energy, and we can’t expect to ensure our national security if we remain dependent upon foreign energy sources. We must have an ‘all-of-the-above’ solution to our energy problems, and as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I plan on working toward these solutions in the 112th Congress.
RK: Let’s talk about immigration. You are a co-chair of the Reclaim American Jobs Caucus, which promotes policies to ensure Americans don’t lose jobs to illegal aliens and you are on record voting for the Secure Fence Act, the REAL ID Act, and the TRUE ID act. Could you describe these initiatives? And do you support Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in the controversial immigration policies?
SR: I, along with Rep. Lamar Smith (TX) and Gary Miller (CA) created the Reclaim American Jobs Caucus because we saw the link between illegal immigration and unemployment in this country. If we simply enforced our current immigration laws, we could create jobs for millions of unemployed, hardworking American citizens, including legal immigrants. The current Administration’s take on our immigration policy is a slap in the face to those who have played by the rules and come to our country legally. Those who haven’t – those who have broken our laws – shouldn’t be rewarded with jobs. The Reclaim American Jobs Caucus will work to enforce our current immigration laws, increase worksite enforcement, incentivize employer use of the E-Verify system, and make sure that American citizens and legal immigrants are able to find the work they want - and deserve. It’s that simple. Obeying the rule of law is the driving force behind my support of bills to stop illegal immigration.
I applaud Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for her strong stance on immigration policy in her state. What she’s doing is protecting her citizens, which the federal government has failed to do.
RK: You are one of the first legislators who discussed the problem of homegrown radical Islamist terrorism in America. In 2007 you founded the Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus to educate lawmakers about the threat from militant Islam. Your caucus included many Democrats. Tell us about it and what led to your involvement.
SR: I started the Anti-Terrorism Caucus so that Members could educate themselves on the threats we face and take that knowledge back home and help educate their constituents. There are 100 Members from both sides of the aisle, and we bring in experts to talk with Members and staff about terrorism and the jihadist ideology. It’s an issue that many leaders and members of the media shy away from because of the repercussions of speaking out. Let me be clear: I am concerned about radical Islamist ideology and the acts of terrorism born out of this radicalized interpretation of Islam. We have to be aware of the threat and the radicalization process that leads to acts of terrorism. Most recently, I have been working on counter-radicalization. Terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda are now using flashy, game-like websites to recruit young people to terrorism. If we can understand the radicalization process, hopefully we can put a stop to homegrown, domestic terrorism.
RK: In your ambitious 2008 program, A 10 point “Wake Up America” Plan to Battle Radical Islam you included many initiatives; a bill to make the preaching, publication, or distribution of materials that call for the death of American citizens, attacks on the United States Government or Armed Forces, or the financing of the means and/or operations to accomplish these acts, acts of sedition and/or solicitation of treason; attempt to cancel scholarship student visa program with Saudi Arabia until they reform their textbooks; bill to restrict R-1/R-2 religious visas for imams who come from countries that do not allow reciprocal visits by non-Muslim clergy; sponsor a bill to block the sale of sensitive military munitions, especially Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), to Saudi Arabia. Have these been successful? What do you make of the Obama administrations plan to sell advanced arms to Saudi Arabia?
SR: We updated the “Wake Up America” plan in 2009 to refocus our efforts. We learned that we are far more advanced on these issues than the general public and so we use these plans as a way to educate people and get them in the fight. We have been successful in raising concerns about all of these issues with government officials- and putting some pressure on them- but there are many things that we couldn’t do in the Minority. Now that we’re in the Majority, we’re going to make sure that changes. One major thing we plan to do is to hold hearings on these topics so that we both educate the public and hold our government accountable.
RK: In April of 2008 you called for Jimmy Carter’s passport to be revoked and stated: “Former President Carter has acted in contradiction of international agreements to isolate Hamas. He has acted in defiance of both United States policy and international policy. His actions reward terrorists, lend support, and provide legitimacy to their belief that violence will eventually get them what they want.” We at FSM cheered. Did you get any response?
SR: The Bush administration said they wouldn’t revoke his passport, even though they could. I wish they had taken a stand and revoked it because his actions send mixed foreign policy signals, and the actions of the Bush Administration showed flaws and vulnerabilities in our foreign policies. We live in an extremely dangerous world, and we need to have a strong unified message when we present it to the world.
RK: In June of this year you wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stating:
“Former intelligence officials have suggested that Hezbollah has increased its presence in Central and South America, and are now operating in Mexico and on our southern border. Even more troubling is that I believe Hezbollah and the drug cartels may be operating as partners on our border.”
Please discuss this troubling issue. Tell us about the nexus between Iran and Latin American nations that contributes to this threat.
SR: Hezbollah is the proxy army of Iran and a state-sponsored terrorist organization. Most people think al-Qaeda when they think of terrorist organizations, but Hezbollah is the most well-organized, well-funded and successful terrorist group in the world. After talking with border patrol intelligence officials on the ground along our Southern border, it was apparent that Hezbollah operations were becoming a cause for great concern, especially Hezbollah’s influence and assistance to the Mexican drug cartels that plague the region. Agents began discovering sophisticated tunnel systems for transporting drugs across the border – tunnels very similar to the ones built by Hezbollah into Israel. The technology of car bombs became more sophisticated, mirroring techniques used by Hezbollah. A federal district court in New York recently handed down an indictment, stating that an operative in a drugs-for-arms deal stored weapons in Mexico at the home of a Hezbollah operative. Law enforcement agents began reporting cross-branding of inmates picked up along the border, where inmates bore both MS-13 tattoos and tattoos representing Hezbollah. All that I am asking for from the Department of Homeland Security is a taskforce to simply find out what’s going on.
Most concerning is the connection between Iran and Venezuela. It’s well documented that Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Chavez are close friends. I learned from the Customs and Border Patrol agents that they are seeing an increased number of Iranians and other Middle Eastern individuals from Special Interest Counties sending their citizens through Venezuela then up to Mexico and illegally across the Southern Border of the United States. I have also learned these Special Interest Aliens are being sent to Venezuela, easily acquiring false documents, and then are spending upwards of two years learning Spanish, so that if they are caught crossing the US-Mexican border they can claim they were Venezuelan and avoid further analysis. Many of these aliens actually change their Middle Eastern names to names common in Venezuela -- again to avoid detection. The implications of these actions are clear. Unfortunately, Venezuela is not considered a special interest country, and its citizens aren’t considers Aliens from Special Interest Countries (ASICs). I’ve also written to DHS about this issue. Regarding both, I’m told that there is nothing to worry about.
RK: Thank you Sue Myrick for your exceptional service to this nation and for taking the time to answer these questions. Good luck and enjoy the forthcoming holidays with your family.