Leah worked in national security under three different administrations - two Republican and one Democratic. Therefore, she's seen many different approaches to national security throughout her career. This has provided her with a unique perspective on what works - and what doesn't - when it comes to protecting our country. While it is a complex and ongoing conversation, Leah has first-hand experience in key areas that require immediate attention from our nation's lawmakers.
Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVE) have become one of the most pressing national security threats of our time. Leah believes one of the best solutions to this issue is to empower communities to build resilience to radicalization efforts. These endeavors, commonly known as Countering Violent Extremism programs, help community leaders, parents, teachers, friends and relatives to recognize signs of radicalization early on. Law enforcement and the intelligence community must consistently work on building trust within communities to prevent recruitment and radicalization across a broad spectrum of ideologies.
Leah supports providing federal grants to foster community-based solutions. She encourages associating these grants with programs that adopt a three-tier approach of prevention, recognition and rehabilitation. Prevention keeps extremist messaging and recruitment efforts away from the most susceptible members of our society, while recognition provides an "off-ramp" from the path to extremism. Family members are often the first to notice suspicious behavior and often feel their only choice is to ignore the warning signs or risk their loved one going to prison. CVE programs can help build alternate solutions based on community-centered solutions. The third tier, rehabilitation, is of particular importance in Minnesota. Leah's work in counter-terrorism here revealed a prison system that is ill-equipped to offer the deradicalization measures necessary to prevent recidivism. Terrorism charges often stem from different motives than other crimes, and we must equip our prison system with the tools necessary to resolve them. The threat that HVE poses to our nation will be only thwarted when communities, correctional facilities and law enforcement work together to implement innovative approaches to this pressing issue.
In addition to traditional counter-terrorism work, Leah's tenure at the FBI included a focus on cyber-terrorism. She has first-hand experience in the ways nation states and individual actors target America's cyber infrastructure. The next large-scale attack on Americans will likely not be fought by land or sea, but planned and executed online. This is why we must invest in our U.S. Intelligence Community, while having robust dialogue on privacy protections and taking a hard look at more effective ways to allocate our traditional defense budget.
Every day that goes by without launching a major federal initiative to study our nation's cyber security puts us at further risk. Americans remain extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks by individual malicious actors, as well as nation states. The unfortunate truth is Congress lacks the knowledge and sense of urgency to effectively combat this threat. Leah will be relentless in pushing for a major federal initiative to strengthen our cyber security position and safeguard the American people.