September 21, 2021

Senator Hassan Questions National Security Officials on Threats to the Country 20 Years After 9/11

Senator Also Pushes for the Department of Homeland Security to Allow Vaccinated Canadians to Travel to the U.S. By Land at the Northern Border

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan participated in a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the key national security threats facing the country 20 years after 9/11. During the hearing, the Senator questioned Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Christopher Wray on how the United States is preparing to protect the country against a possible resurgence of Al-Qaeda.


To watch the Senator’s questioning during the hearing, click here.


During the hearing, Senator Hassan stated, “Some assessments indicate that Al-Qaeda could reconstitute itself and be capable of threatening the U.S. homeland in the next one to two years.” The Senator asked what the FBI and DHS are each doing to “detect, investigate, and disrupt possible Al-Qaeda attacks on the homeland.”


FBI Director Wray said, “We’re in a fundamentally different posture here in terms of the FBI’s stance than we were at the time of 9/11. And that starts with our over 200 joint terrorism task forces, which encompass something like 4,500 different federal, state, and local partners. So we are aggressively using those task forces all over the country to engage with sources, follow up with ties between subjects that we have under investigation with individuals overseas, working with our foreign partners to put information together. We’re putting a heavy focus on community outreach as the evacuees settle here in the United States to both try to get in front of any radicalization that could occur while they’re here, but also to try to open up the lines of communication to make sure that if someone sees something about someone in those communities, that they’ll say something to us about it.”


Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas said, “We continue to screen and vet individuals seeking to arrive in the United States by any means, sea, land, and air. We have not relaxed our vigilance over the years. We speak very frequently about a rise in prominence of certain types of threats -- the domestic and violent extremists, the homegrown violent extremists – that does not mean that that rise in prominence suggests that we have taken our eye, our focus, off the prior iteration that is ever present. ”


During her questioning, Senator Hassan also pushed for DHS to reopen the northern border at land points of entry for vaccinated Canadians, and noted how the closed entry directly harms New Hampshire families and small businesses.


“I was very disappointed with the administration’s decision yesterday about the Canadian border. Right now, I just want to be clear, non-vaccinated Canadians who have a negative COVID test can get on a plane and fly to the United States, but vaccinated Canadians – and they have a higher vaccination rate than we do – cannot cross a port of entry into our country,” Senator Hassan said. “I do not understand the public health rationale here at all for closing the Northern Border to vehicular traffic, when it is essentially open to air traffic.”  


Last week, noting the economic and familial strains caused by the continued restrictions at the U.S.-Canada border, Senator Hassan called on the administration to allow vaccinated Canadians to travel to the U.S. through land ports of entry.