Rehberg’s bill needed to protect our northern border
Guest column by CORY SWANSON
Congressman Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has taken some heat over his support of H.R. 1505, a bill that strengthens America's ability to protect itself by securing our borders against illegal aliens, drug and human traffickers, and terrorists. Rehberg's opponents have conjured up a bunch of false attacks that this bill will cut off hunters from public lands, even though Rehberg has specifically ensured the bill contains language preventing closures to hunter access.
As a lifelong hunter, I value my right to access Montana's public lands, and I will not support any legislation that threatens that access. But I also believe America has a duty to secure its borders, and Montana's northern border is an open door to smugglers and terrorists.
The latest indication of a threat against us is an article published by the al-Qaida English language magazine, Inspire. The article points out Montana as an ideal place for an attack on America, because of its secluded forests and rural population.
While some claim that al-Qaida is not a serious threat to Montana, I can tell you from personal experience that criminals, human traffickers and terrorists have every opportunity to sneak into the United States through vast open areas that are under environmental protection.
When I was a law student at the University of Montana, I worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office and helped prosecute a smuggler who brought seven South Korean illegal immigrants out of Canada into the United States through Glacier National Park. The authorities caught him only after he became lost and the group wandered in the woods for three days. We can't expect to be that lucky against experienced smugglers or hardened terrorists.
When I was deployed to Iraq with the Montana Army National Guard, I saw the cruelty and ruthlessness of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. They were intent upon killing civilians in order to spread mayhem and to discredit the United States. We have all witnessed the horror of an attack on America, and there is no doubt the enemy will use any opportunity we give him.
Rehberg has already seen the danger and has led the way to secure our borders. He has spoken to the experts, and he knows America is vulnerable because the remote environmentally protected forests are off-limits to national security patrols. They make the ideal smuggling route and attack corridor for international terrorists. We need to support H.R. 1505 to prevent an attack and to intercept smugglers.
As a hunter and an advocate of access on public lands, I work on a daily basis to ensure Montanans can enjoy the beautiful outdoors that surround us. I will not support legislation that closes those lands to the public. In fact, I have sued the federal government on several occasions when it attempted to shut Montanans out of our public lands. Rest assured, this important legislation protects your right to enjoy Montana, while also helping our national security agencies to seal the border from criminals, smugglers and terrorists.
Rehberg deserves your support as he tries to pass an important bill to protect our way of life.
Cory Swanson of Helena is an attorney, a Montana Army National Guard officer who served two tours in Iraq, and an avid hunter.