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Meet Senator Thompson

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekly Column 12-20-01

Education and Retention Essential To Our National Security
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
December 20, 2001
Uzbek, Serbo-Croation and Arabic.
These are just a few of the languages spoken in regions of the world central to our national security. With few Americans speaking these languages fluently, the problem is clear. If we can't read or write in these languages, our ability to collect intelligence information is compromised and our national security is at risk.
Language, science, and math skills are areas relating to our national security where our federal workforce lacks the necessary degree of proficiency. With an unprecedented increase in the number of federal employees retiring, this problem is exacerbated.
I recently joined with two of my colleagues in the Senate to introduce a pair of bills that provide a comprehensive strategy to deal with these weaknesses. The Homeland Security Education Act and the Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act address specific problems in the federal government's ability to recruit and retain the most talented and qualified national security professionals.
Through the Homeland Security Education Act, experts will be drawn into fields relating to National Security through educational grants, loan forgiveness programs, and opportunities for overseas language training. In addition to this, foreign language education will be addressed and developed at all levels, from elementary schools to universities and beyond.
The Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act will also create incentives to join the federal workforce at agencies including the Departments of Defense, State, Energy, and Justice as well as the CIA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Security Agency. Like its sister legislation, it will establish loan forgiveness programs and educational grants.
The Workforce Act will also create a National Security Service Corps, through which federal national security agencies will conduct exchange programs for mid-level employees. Perhaps most importantly, this legislation will better track our future needs for national security personnel by requiring agencies to address human capital needs when assessing agency strength and future plans.
These bills were a product of many of the recommendations made by the Hart/Rudman Commissionon National Security in the 21st Century earlier this year. The commission warned in its most recent report that maintaining American power in the world would depend on the quality of our federal workforce. Such a recommendation was underscored by the events we witnessed on September 11th.
Employing the best possible federal workforce is a matter of national security. The federal government's workforce crisis is real and will remain unless we begin to think strategically about what our needs are and then match our most skilled people with opportunities for development and incentives to stay.
For more information on this column or other issues, visit my website at http://thompson.senate.gov.

Weekly Column 11-30-01

Fighting the Scourge of Methamphetamine
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
November 30, 2001
Methamphetamine, commonly called Meth, is a drug many people had never heard of until recent years. Yet it has spread through our state at a dangerous rate, taking a toll on our people, our environment, and our local governments.
Congress has taken action to combat Methamphetamine, recently providing $20 million to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in Tennessee and across the country with the cleanup of toxic meth labs. The production of methamphetamine, a dangerous chemical process carried out in labs often hidden in private homes, many times results in chemical explosions and fires. While dangerous to manufacturers and users who face serious burns and long term consequences including lung disease and rotting teeth, children living side-by-side with labs are affected as well.
Tennessee investigators arrested several adults on child abuse and neglect charges earlier this year after young children were discovered in homes and apartments housing labs. In the worst of these cases, a small child died in February of cardiac arrest reportedly caused by complications from severe burns suffered during a meth lab explosion.
Methamphetamine production also threatens our environment, with five or six pounds of toxic waste generated by every pound of meth produced. And the cleanup of just one meth lab costs from $3,000 to $100,000, depleting the financial resources of our local communities.
Tennessee law enforcement officials have actively responded to the meth problem, shutting down labs and arresting manufacturers and distributors. In Dunlap, during a three-day meth crackdown in October, Sequatchie County Sheriff's investigators confiscated at least four working meth labs, leading to 13 arrests. In September, members of the Marion County Drug Task Force destroyed approximately 30 labs and arrested 58 people on charges ranging from possession of marijuana to manufacturing meth. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, 510 meth labs were seized in Tennessee between January 1999 and July 2001.
With the funds set aside by Congress, in addition to a $1 million grant pledged to Southeast Tennessee by the Department of Justice, our local law enforcement officers will be able to continue eradicating these labs and protecting our environment without draining limited resources from our local communities.
Meth is a dangerous drug, not only for what it does to users and manufacturers, but also for what it does to the innocent bystanders who are dragged into its path. Finding and destroying labs is the first step in combating the underworld of methamphetamine and I'm very pleased Congress is supporting these efforts. For more information on this column or other issues, visit my web site at
http://thompson.senate.gov

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Weekly Column 11-05-01

Effective Government Management Will Be Vital In War on Terrorism
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
November 5, 2001
In peacetime, effective government management is very important. In a time of war, it's vital.
Success in the war against terrorism is going to require efficient use of our government resources and effective management of government personnel. Recently, I introduced legislation referred to Congress by President Bush that seeks to make our government more responsive and better equipped to effectively manage its workforce and resources.
The legislation, which includes the Freedom to Manage Act and the Managerial Flexibility Act, makes it easier for Executive Branch management to increase accountability, reduce unnecessary costs, and manage for results. The Freedom to Manage Act will help the government recruit and retain people with needed skills, increase the flexibility of federal property management, and allow agencies to budget for results. The Managerial Flexibility Act would allow other reform proposals, submitted to Congress by the President, to be considered quickly by the Congress. I will work with my colleagues on the Governmental Affairs Committee and others in the Senate to enact this important package.
Programs attempting such accountability have worked well when attempted in the past. The Navy successfully experimented with performance-oriented pay for more than a decade. However, the authority for them to extend that program or make it permanent, or for other agencies to experiment with similar programs, required special authorizing legislation. The Managerial Flexibility Act allows a successful demonstration project, such as the Navy's, to be made permanent and available for other agencies to adopt in the future.
Federal managers complain that the federal hiring process takes too long and is too complicated, often preventing them from hiring the most qualified candidates. This legislation would allow them to hire the most qualified individuals as quickly and efficiently as possible by using alternative ranking and selection procedures while maintaining veterans' preferences. As with the Navy example above, this undertaking was successfully implemented for over a decade, by the Department of Agriculture.
One of the greatest challenges to effective management involves outdated and ineffective laws. This legislative package would call on agency heads to identify such laws and Congress would be required to consider repealing them quickly.
At a time when our national security is being tested as it has never been before, this legislation allows the Department of Defense to best manage its personnel. In January 2001, the General Accounting Office reported that the Defense Department, like other federal agencies, continues to face difficulties in hiring and retaining the people it needs to accomplish its mission. With shortages in intelligence analysts and computer programmers, our intelligence gathering capabilities are stretched to the limit. We must grant the Defense Department the flexibility it needs to hire and retain those individuals essential to protecting American interests.
Portions of our government have suffered from a lack of quality management for some time and we're now reaping the harvest for a lot of it, especially in regard to our national security. There has never been a more crucial time to reform the management of our federal government and the legislation we're pursuing is a strong step in that direction.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020626124250/http://thompson.senate.gov/.

Weekly Column 10-01-01

Fighting Back Against Terrorism
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
October 1, 2001
In the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, our nation is being tested as we?ve never been tested before. In fighting a war against terrorism, we are confronting an enemy that has no stated diplomatic goals, no real territory of its own to defend, and no remorse about killing countless innocent civilians.
Following September 11, many said we were living in a new world. However, the world changed long before these attacks. Osama bin Laden declared war on us years ago and commission after commission warned us that we had better be ready to deal with a terrorist attack here in the United States. Now it?s happened and we will respond, not out a sense of anger or thirst for vengeance, but out of a desire for justice and to prevent future incidents.
During his recent speech before Congress, President Bush emerged as a true world leader. The President?s words were simple and direct. He gave voice to the spirit of the American people. And I can?t think of a more talented group than Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, National Security Advisor Rice, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to help him plan and carry out the task at hand.
The President?s campaign against terrorism has begun. We are assembling and beginning to deploy our military forces. Our diplomatic efforts have resulted in declarations of support and pledges of assistance from around the globe. One of the primary weapons in this campaign will be cutting off the terrorists? money supply. The Treasury Department has frozen approximately 30 Al Qaeda accounts in the U.S. and almost 20 overseas. The Justice Department has arrested or detained over 400 persons and issued over 4,000 subpoenas. In the vital area of information gathering, over 100 countries have offered increased intelligence support. Approximately 150 arrests and detentions of terrorists and suspected supporters of terrorism have taken place in over 25 countries.
At the same time, Congress has worked in a bipartisan manner to pass important legislation to aid the President?s efforts. We are working on additional pieces of legislation to combat terrorism, increase security at airports, and boost our economy. We know at the outset that we won?t agree on everything, but the partisan squabbling over issues that aren?t as important has been replaced by bipartisan agreement to work on issues that are.
Finally, I have been heartened over the past several weeks by the response of Tennesseans to this tragedy, though it came as no surprise. In the days following September 11, I repeatedly saw stories from all across the state about local efforts to help the victims and their families. I was filled with pride to see the Volunteer spirit on display during this crisis. I had the honor to spend some time at the Pentagon meeting with a group of Tennesseans from Memphis who were assisting with the recovery efforts there. I was impressed not only with their dedication, but with their spirit in the face of a very difficult task.
Shortly after the attacks, I was fortunate to be able to travel across Tennessee, meeting with folks and talking about what had happened, and what was going to happen. I talked about how this will not be a quick made-for-television war marked by pinprick responses. We?re in for the long haul, and we?re going to have to make sacrifices. The Tennesseans who came up to me, whether it was following a church service, an event at a school, or elsewhere, demonstrated a strong resolve to see this through.
Our opponents are counting on just the opposite. They are banking on the false hope that we will not be able to sustain such a high level of commitment. They are wrong. They don?t understand us and they underestimate us. This will be their downfall. As President Bush said in his speech, this campaign will not be won in a matter of weeks or months. Rather, the fight against terrorism will be a sustained effort that will last years. But in the end, we will prevail.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020626123651/http://thompson.senate.gov/.

Weekly Column 09-14-01

We Cannot Alter the Past, but We Can Affect the Future
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
September 14, 2001
In this time of unmatched national tragedy, I realize that words cannot begin to express the sorrow and anger that fills our hearts. Despite this, we must make every effort to express these feelings, on behalf of the family and friends of thousands of innocent victims, and on behalf of our entire nation.
We teach our children that the United States is a beacon of hope and liberty for the world. Today they must be wondering how or why we, of all countries, could become the world's main target of such savagery.
We are a target because those teachings are true. It is because our history and the principles on which our country was founded go against the trends of human history. Before the United States, the world saw thousands of years of "might makes right," of rulers and dictatorships of all shapes and forms, and of religious intolerance and subjugation.
We have shown the world that it doesn't have to be that way. And today's tyrants and would-be tyrants cannot afford to let that example stand. But stand it will. If this giant has been sleeping as some say, it has been awakened once again and will not rest until an example has been made of those who would murder our innocent citizens and tear at the very fabric of our national existence.
We must act as a deterrent to outrageous activity when our interests are involved. And America's response in this matter should set a lasting example of what happens to those who unleash bloody attacks -- especially upon our own soil. The time for carefully measured pinprick responses to terrorist activities has passed.
Since our victory in the Cold War, we have become somewhat complacent in the notion that the most significant danger to our nation has passed. We have seen such a mentality played out in dialogues about our military budget and we have heard it in our rhetoric. We attempted to decide with precision what the chances were of a missile attack by a rogue nation or by terrorists versus a suitcase bomb versus a biological or cyber attack. This recent attack should remind us of how faulty such predictions can be.
Surely, we must now realize that as the world's number one target, we must protect our citizens from all of these possibilities. While protection can never be complete, who is going to decide which window of vulnerability we are going to allow to remain open?
The old Soviet threat has been replaced by new ones that are in many ways more dangerous and more deceitful. We have been warned about this repeatedly -- by the Hart-Rudman Commission, the Gilmore Commission, by the Bremer Commission and by the experts in numerous committee hearings. Surely, now we will listen.
It is essential that we resist the temptation to place our defense requirements in secondary position to our domestic wish list. And surely, we must reevaluate the wisdom of America contributing to the proliferation of military useful technology simply because we want the sales. It is my belief that this is what the Senate did when it recently passed the Export Administration Act.
If we place short term considerations, our desire for profit, or our desire to maintain record high surpluses above our national security, we will become much more vulnerable to the potential of experiencing more days like one we so recently endured.
Historians tell us of another Democracy that after major military success cut its military budget, turned inward, and failed to react to provocation in hopes of maintaining peace. A nation whose leaders followed the popular demand for more butter and fewer guns, and who felt that if worse came to worse, technology could bail them out and that treaties with dictators would substitute for defenses.
That country was England after World War I, and those policies contributed to causing the biggest war in the history of the world. We must not make a similar mistake.
We cannot alter the past. But we can affect the future. In the coming months, I will join my colleagues in the Senate in considering our appropriations bills. In our budget considerations, we must do everything necessary to keep this country safe. It is not only the right and necessary thing to do. It is also the real tribute we can pay to our citizens who have paid the ultimate price simply for being American.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020626123043/http://thompson.senate.gov/.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626123043/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/091401.html

Weekly Column 08-31-01

A Presidential Call For Washington Reform
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
August 31, 2001
Public criticism of the way government operates is not a new phenomenon, nor is it entirely unhealthy. Our democracy benefits from the voices of critics and champions alike who drive the constant battle for improved efficiency and transparency in Washington. But the watchful eye of the public cannot itself bring about change in Washington. What is needed and has been sorely missed in recent years is real leadership from the executive branch in enacting management reform.
Too often, seemingly urgent national problems shine the limelight of hope on the newest, fix-all government program. Soon, such hope fades into indifference and the program is doomed to join the long list of government programs that meant well, but just didn't achieve their goals. The President needs to work with Congress to put an end to the Washington way of constantly creating and expanding federal programs before looking strategically at what would actually produce improved government performance. I am pleased that President Bush is making good on his pledge to do just that.
This spring, Director Mitch Daniels of the President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) joined me as I released a comprehensive report, titled "Government at the Brink," documenting the daunting management problems the Bush Administration inherited. It included an analysis of management challenges involving the federal workforce, government finance, information technology, and overlap and duplication, as well as recommendations for addressing those problems. OMB Director Daniels welcomed the report and promised to work with Congress to curb pervasive mismanagement.
Recently, President Bush took the next important step in reforming the federal government by outlining an impressive management agenda, integrating government-wide and program-specific initiatives that will improve the government's performance. His Administration not only identified fourteen long-neglected management problems in the federal government, but set forth logical and realistic goals for fixing them. By targeting specific deficiencies and setting achievable goals for improvement, we have the opportunity to see real results.
A number of the reforms the President outlined complement the work of the Governmental Affairs Committee. For instance, the agenda calls for improved financial management to curb the loss of billions and billions of taxpayer dollars each year, something the Committee has been addressing for many years. It encourages a strategic approach to hiring, training, motivating, and retaining the right employees for federal jobs. It proposes increased competition throughout government to improve efficiency and encourage innovation. It advocates tying the federal budget process to performance measures so that federal dollars will produce maximum results. And it promotes efforts to use the power of the Internet to make interacting with government easier, cheaper, faster, and more comprehensible.
President Bush's substantive initiatives for reforming the federal government illustrate that his administration refuses to succumb to the contagious indifference that has afflicted so many in Washington for so long. By tackling mismanagement early and head on, the President is walking the walk of positive change he and I both hope will spread from the highest office in Washington to the local post office in rural Tennessee. Genuine, results-oriented leadership from those working in government is necessary for real change in the federal government. I am encouraged by President Bush's management initiatives and look forward to working with him to make sure that the American people are provided with the efficient and effective service they deserve.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020527154108/http://thompson.senate.gov/.

Weekly Column 08-06-01

Congress is Working to Address Tennessee's Agriculture Needs
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
August 6, 2001
Tennessee is fortunate to have an extraordinary agricultural community. Our farmers work hard to produce outstanding agricultural products for folks here in Tennessee and across the country. Unfortunately, Tennessee farmers have battled rough times in recent years. While farming is an inherently risky profession, weather conditions, persistent pests, and changes in markets have made things even more difficult. However, Congress is taking steps to help our farmers through legislation and by approving much-needed funding for agriculture. I'm pleased to announce that important funding for Tennessee projects has been included in the Senate Agriculture Appropriation bill for Fiscal Year 2002.
* The Senate bill includes $72 million for the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, and a portion of these funds will be directed toward the completion of Tennessee's program. Boll weevil infestation has placed added production costs on cotton growers in Tennessee and across the country. In states where the Boll Weevil Eradication Program operations are complete, growers have benefitted from lower costs, increased cotton production and significant environmental benefits from reduced pesticide application. Increased support for the Boll Weevil Eradication Program is a big win for Tennessee growers.
* $3.6 million in funding has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) effort to stem the spread of fire ants through the South. Fire ant infestations have caused considerable problems for Tennessee's agricultural community. These are aggressive insects that, in large numbers, can seriously injure or even kill livestock, pets, and humans. USDA's quarantine program restricts the movement of regulated articles like soil, plants, and sod from quarantined areas in order to prevent the spread of imported fire ants into areas that are not infested. The program has helped states develop a consistent set of rules for all nurseries in quarantined areas to prevent the spread of this damaging and invasive species. We must address this problem in the safest, most efficient way possible.
* The bill provides $600,000 for the horticulture research initiative at the University of Tennessee. Floriculture and nursery crops collectively constitute the third most valuable crop in the U.S., after corn and soybeans. Our state has a vibrant nursery industry and a growing floricultural and greenhouse industry, but there are many challenges that must be addressed. These include pests, pathogens, and weeds, as well as a lack of environmentally-friendly production practices. The targeted, mission-based research conducted at UT will certainly help to meet these challenges.
* $450,000 is included in the bill for UT's wood utilization project, which is a part of UDSA's Special Research Grants Program. With these funds, UT has started the Tennessee Quality Lumber Initiative to improve lumber quality and manufacturing productivity at hardwood sawmills. In addition, UT has also conducted research and industry outreach on wood residue utilization. By creating more efficient methods of disposal and by directing wood residue to companies for other uses, the amount of waste received at the state's landfills has already been reduced.
In addition, the Senate recently passed the Emergency Agriculture Assistance Act of 2001, legislation to address the continued economic crisis affecting farmers. The bill provides $4.6 billion in supplemental income assistance payments nationwide for producers of grain, wheat, rice and cotton. In addition, $900 million is provided for producers of cottonseed, oilseed, peanuts, wool, and tobacco.
These are important steps toward strengthening our agricultural community. Tennessee's farms cover more than half of our state's land area and are extremely important to our economy. Farmers preserve the rural way of life, feed millions of Americans, and provide an enormous portion of our nation's exports. I look forward to our continued work in Congress to address the needs of Tennessee agriculture.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020626123429/http://thompson.senate.gov/.

Weekly Column 07-01-01

PROTECTING THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
July 1, 2001
Tennessee is fortunate to be the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, often referred to as the crown jewel of the national park system. The Smokies cover over half a million acres and host an astounding variety of plant and animal species. The natural beauty of these mountains and the abundance of recreational opportunities also make the Smokies the nation's most visited national park. Each year the Smokies welcome more visitors than the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks combined.
As a result, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is arguably the nation's most threatened national park. Due to the high number of visitors it receives each year, the Smokies are suffering from extraordinary wear and tear. In addition, air quality problems have landed it on the National Parks Conservation Association's list of the ten most endangered parks in the country for each of the past three years. Most shocking to me is that, according to park officials, air quality in the Smokies is so poor during the summer months that hiking on backcountry trails is more hazardous to your health than walking along the streets of Manhattan.
As chairman of the Great Smoky Mountains Congressional Caucus, I have made addressing the needs of the Smokies a top priority. Too often, the budget debate in Washington focuses on short term needs rather than on long term infrastructure deficiencies such as the neglect of our national park system. I believe the federal government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure the protection of our national parks for future generations to enjoy. I have called on President Bush to help us address these concerns, and I am encouraged by his commitment to help eliminate the National Park Service's maintenance and repair backlog, as well as to address air quality problems in our national parks.
Traffic congestion is contributing to the air quality problems in the Smokies, detracting from the enjoyment of those who visit, and threatening public access. Accordingly, I have cosponsored the Transit in Parks Act, legislation designed to help the Smokies and surrounding communities deal with growing regional transportation problems threatening the park's future. The legislation would create a federal transit program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and provide $65 million each year for the next six years to develop alternative transportation systems such as light rail, alternative fuel buses, and bicycle and pedestrian pathways. It encourages national parks to work with states and local communities to address these problems and provides federal funding to help implement meaningful solutions.
I am pleased that the Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved $4.7 million to construct a new science research center and laboratory in the park. This facility is part of a national effort to better understand and preserve natural resources and biologically diverse ecosystems, as well as to provide researchers and students with new opportunities to learn more about conservation efforts and threats to our national parks. In addition, $375,000 has been approved by the committee for restoration and repair of 77 pioneer log cabins and more than 100 historic structures throughout the park.
I am hopeful the full Senate will move quickly to approve this funding. We have also requested $300,000 in federal funds to be used in ongoing efforts to monitor ground-level ozone and other air pollutants in the Smokies as part of the East Tennessee Ozone Study.
The popularity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has placed a significant burden on its infrastructure and services. However, I am confident that we are taking important steps toward preserving this national treasure for our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626123005/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/070101.html

Weekly Column 06-22-01

PEOPLE IN THE VOLUNTEER STATE ARE ANSWERING THE CALL OF SERVICE
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
June 22, 2001
Tennessee has several nicknames, but is most often referred to as "The Volunteer State." This nickname originated during the War of 1812, when Governor Willie Blount issued a call for volunteers that resulted in thousands of enlistments. Today, there are many extraordinary Tennesseans volunteering their time and talents, a few of whom have recently received much-deserved recognition for their selfless, outstanding service.
Heather Henderson is a young Tennessean working to make a difference. The teenage Girl Scout from Ooltewah has received national recognition for her work with the Craniofacial Foundation of America, which supports the Tennessee Craniofacial Center in Chattanooga. Heather worked to organize a camping weekend at Booker T. Washington State Park for patients and families of the center.
The planning of the weekend involved many logistics, including seeking donations from the community and funds from the Ronald McDonald House Children's Charities. In addition, the weekend's activities, meals, and medical staffing had to be arranged. This is no easy task for a teenager with school duties and other responsibilities. When she planned the camping outing last year, Heather designed the weekend for 16 participants. However, she received such an overwhelming response that the number of participants doubled.
For her effort and dedication, Heather was named, by Girl Scouts of the USA, one of only eleven Girl Scouts nation-wide to receive the Girl Scout Gold Award, Young Women of Distinction. Heather's "Dreams Do Come True" project will continue to make a difference in people's lives, as the camping weekend will be continued in the future under the Girl Scouts of Moccasin Bend Council.
Two Tennesseans recently traveled to Washington to receive Jefferson Awards from the American Institute for Public Service. Jefferson Awards are given on both the local and national level to recognize ordinary citizens for outstanding community and public service. These volunteers give their time without any desire for recognition or reward, and they are nominated by various Jefferson Awards media sponsors.
Willie Mae Nunley was nominated by WRCB-TV in Chattanooga for her perseverance and dedication in helping low-income citizens in Grundy County. Willie Mae, who was raised in poverty herself, began her service over a decade ago. She and her friends founded the Appalachian Women's Guild, which provides families with numerous resources and services such as food, clothing, job training, counseling, and crisis assistance.
When a fire tragically consumed the Guild, Willie Mae worked to rebuild the facility and continue its service to those in the community. In addition to the Appalachian Women's Guild, Willie Mae founded The Barefoot Boy Program, which helps families receive clothes and basic school supplies such as books, paper, pencils, and backpacks. By providing students with the supplies they need, but might not be able to afford, Willie Mae is playing an important role in helping students learn so they can succeed in the future.
Dr. Allen O. Battle, a clinical psychologist and teacher at the University of Tennessee Mental Health Center was nominated by The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. He was recognized for dedicating his life to helping others emotionally and physically through establishing an all-volunteer Memphis Suicide Prevention and Crisis Center. For nearly 30 years, Dr. Battle has taken time from a busy practice to recruit and train volunteers to work at the center and take calls from those in crisis. Dr. Battle has also worked with numerous programs and agencies, including the Memphis Police Department, to train individuals to deal with suicide threats and other mental health crises.
Work like this saves lives and strengthens those around us. Tennessee is fortunate to have compassionate individuals like Heather, Willie Mae, Dr. Battle, and the many others in our state who have answered the call of service. When we work to strengthen our communities through good works, we remove barriers, give people a chance to succeed, and strengthen our nation for the better.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626122416/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/062201.html

Weekly Column 06-15-01

REFORMING THEPRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENT PROCESS
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
June 15, 2001
I hope Gale Norton, our new Secretary of Interior, has seen the movie "Home Alone." Because that's what she is as the only confirmed political appointee at the Department of the Interior. Other federal agencies aren't much better off ? The Department of Education has just two of 16 appointees confirmed, or 13 percent; Justice six of 34, 18 percent; Transportation four out of 18, 22 percent; and Treasury just five out of 21, or 24 percent. In fact, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill had to travel all the way around the world to a meeting of the Asian Development Bank because he didn't have the appointee in place that he would ordinarily send. This is a real problem.
When our system of government was designed more than two hundred years ago, the Founding Fathers realized that in order to do the work of the people, the efforts of elected officials would need to be supplemented by the service of non-elected public servants. In order to prevent them from abusing their significant power, our Founding Fathers included in the Constitution a requirement that certain high-ranking officials receive the advice and consent of the Senate in order to assume their influential positions. The theory behind this process is that even though the appointees themselves are not elected, the public can hold the President and Congress responsible for the appointee's actions while he or she serves the public interest.
Over time, our federal government has grown in complexity. The executive branch has expanded immensely, and Congress has been required to handle many more nominations than the Founding Fathers would ever have imagined. The entire appointment process has become so difficult, complex, intrusive, and expensive that some of the best-qualified people are reportedly turning down the opportunity to serve the public. Citing privacy concerns, severe post-employment restrictions, and the sometimes low public image of government officials, potential appointees are reluctant to enter the fray.
It is incumbent on the President and Congress to ensure that appointees meet exacting standards. But all too often the appointment process becomes mired in politics. Nominees face burdensome, duplicative, perhaps unnecessary paperwork, and confusing ethics laws which in large part have lost sight of their initial purpose. In fact, the process of recruiting and confirming nominees has evolved into a bureaucratic maze that has been referred to by some as a "hazing process." It is neither the responsibility nor the right of Congress to divulge every intimate detail of a nominee's life to the public's insatiable appetite for knowledge of its elected officials. While potential conflicts of interest need to be identified, what a nominee did with his or her lunch money in the fourth grade does not.
The broken appointment system is unfair to both the appointee and to the President, and the problem seems to be getting worse with each new administration. If estimates are right, it may take a full year for President Bush's nominees to be appointed and confirmed. The President will be without his necessary key advisors for one-quarter of a presidential term. To date, only 120 out of 495 nominees have been confirmed.
It's clear we're going to have to look at things differently. During my tenure as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, I presided over a set of hearings on the state of the presidential appointment process, where those most familiar with the confirmation gauntlet presented thoughtful and reasoned testimony identifying ways to improve the process. Witnesses identified ways the White House can improve the way it addresses the issue. Further, the Senate needs to take a look at timing, the holds process, and the many duplicative forms. The Office of Government Ethics has made recommendations on ways to reduce the paperwork burden nominees must complete.
I plan to pursue improvements in this area. The ability of a President-elect to attract the best people to public service and put them to work is obviously of critical importance. The process must be streamlined in order to make it easier for the President's nominees to accept appointments.
Recently, the Presidential Appointee Initiative released a "Nominee's Bill of Rights," calling for Congress and the White House to treat nominees with fairness, courtesy and respect. Paul Light, Senior Adviser to The Presidential Appointee Initiative, noted, "If we believe - as the Founders did - that public service should be both a duty and an honor, the White House and Congress should make the process simple, fast, and as fair as possible."
I can't imagine anything of greater civic importance than getting the right people to heed the call to public service. Further, we owe it to the President and his key appointees the ability to get a team in place in a timely fashion. The government should not be responsible for maintaining undue barriers to public service, and the President must not be asked to do the people's business with only a skeleton crew in place.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020527144436/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/061501.html

Weekly Column 06-08-01

GOVERNMENT AT THE BRINK OF PROGRAM FAILURE
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
June 8, 2001
One of my primary objectives since coming to Washington has been to monitor the way the government operates and to crack down on the waste, fraud, and abuse that results from mismanagement within federal government agencies. Recently, I released a comprehensive report documenting the daunting management problems the Bush Administration has inherited from the previous administration.
For some time now, our government has been mismanaged to an extent that the average person would find shocking. The federal government's core management problems have persisted for years and, in fact, have grown worse. They are ticking time bombs that will undermine everything else that the government is trying to do and will exact a terrible toll on public trust and confidence in the federal government.
My report, Government at the Brink, shows that our government is on the verge of major program failure. It includes a detailed analysis of the four greatest challenges facing the federal government, including workforce management, financial management, information technology management, as well as overlap and duplication.
The good news is that federal agencies already have a wealth of tools to combat these problems. The missing ingredient up to now has been leadership and sustained commitment from the President and Congress. If we can develop the political will to take on these problems, solutions will surely follow. Our report outlines some specific recommendations for the various problems, but before we can get serious action on them, several other things have to happen:
Political leadership: The President and Congress must make clear in word and deed that resolving these management problems is one of their priorities, and that they will keep after the agencies and the government's key management agency, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), until the job is done.
Agency follow-up: OMB must establish specific performance goals, measures, strategies, and timetables to resolve the problems. They should use as a starting point potential solutions that have already been identified.
Investing in improvements: As part of their improvement strategies, agencies and the OMB must identify funding needed to resolve the problems and Congress must be willing to provide it. If done right, relatively modest investments in improvements will repay themselves many times over.
Linking funding to results: Both the President and the Congress need to insist on reliable performance information to determine what's working and what's not, and then hold agencies and programs accountable where it counts - in their budgets. Where programs overlap, we should concentrate our resources on those that work best or can be made to work best. The fact that a program isn't performing well doesn't automatically mean it should be defunded. Maybe it needs a legislative fix or even more funding. However, letting non-performing programs simply continue as is should not be an option.
The new OMB Director, Mitch Daniels, joined me recently at a press conference in front of the Capitol to announce the release of the report. He said improving government performance is a top priority of President Bush's and that our report would serve as a road map as the Administration implements its reform agenda.
I was very pleased to hear that, because a degree of public skepticism toward our government is a healthy thing. Rampant cynicism is not. We cannot change the fact that we have these problems, but we can certainly take the necessary steps to find sensible solutions that will in turn make government more effective and better serve taxpayers
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626122237/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/060801.html

Weekly Column 06-01-01

TAX RELIEF FOR TENNESSEANS IS ON THE WAY
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
June 1, 2001
For the last decade, the American people have seen the federal government take an increasing share of their personal income, and federal taxes are at an all-time high. I am pleased to say that help is on the way, as Congress recently approved the Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001, a historic tax relief plan. This bill, passed by both the House and Senate, and soon to be signed into law by President Bush, contains every major element of the President's original tax cut proposal.
The plan provides $1.35 trillion in tax relief over the next 11 years, cutting tax rates across the board, eliminating the death tax, providing relief from the marriage penalty, and doubling the child tax credit. It provides an immediate boost to our economy, puts money back in people's pockets this year, and provides tax relief to every American who pays income taxes.
I'm very pleased that the bill we passed cuts income tax rates across the board. Every income taxpayer gets a tax cut, rather than having Congress pick winners and losers based on government-sanctioned behavior.
Beginning this summer and throughout the fall, taxpayers will get refund checks from the federal government, and their tax bills will continue to go down over the next ten years. This year, single taxpayers will get a refund check of as much as $300, single parents will receive up to $500, and married taxpayers will get as much as a $600 refund check.
The Tax Reconciliation Act helps farmers, small business owners, and others by addressing the onerous death tax. Our bill repeals the tax in 2010 and provides some immediate relief as well. For example, the current estate tax exemption of $675,000 will increase to $1 million in 2002, and it continues to increase after that until it is completely repealed.
Saving for a child's education is not always easy, but the bill we passed will help parents save by increasing the limit on education savings account contributions to $2,000 a year and allowing the funds to be used for K-12 expenses. It permits tax-free distributions from state prepaid tuition plans, such as Tennessee Best, and allows private institutions to offer prepaid plans.
Some other key provisions include expanding the earned income credit and making the child credit refundable to put more money in the hands of millions of working families with children. In addition, the plan increases the adoption tax credit to $10,000, increases the child care tax credit, and creates a new tax credit for employers that provide child care facilities for their employees.
Personal saving in this country is at an all-time low. To make it easier for Americans to save for their retirement, the tax plan will increase the IRA contribution limit to $5,000 and allow for IRA catch-up contributions. It also will create a new low-income savers tax credit of up to $1,000 for contributions to an IRA or 401(k) plan. In addition, it enhances pension portability when Americans change jobs and simplifies pension rules for businesses and their employees.
In recent years, those of us who have tried to cut taxes have seen our efforts thwarted by President Clinton's veto pen, but this year we have achieved success. I believe this tax relief package is a an important step toward reducing the tax burden for Tennesseans. By doing so, we help to improve the quality of life for families working to make ends meet and set the stage for long-term economic growth.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626122304/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/060101.html

Weekly Column 05-25-01

PRIVACY PROTECTION IN THE INFORMATION AGE
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
May 25, 2001
Every citizen in Tennessee and across America has a right to his or her privacy. However, in these times of rapidly changing technology, people are uncertain and fearful about who has access to their personal information and how that information is being used. In fact, a recent poll shows that Americans perceive government as the greatest threat to their personal privacy, above both the media and corporations.
Last summer, after the Clinton White House Office of National Drug Control Policy was found to be using unauthorized information-collecting devices, also known as "cookies," on Internet search engines, I requested that the General Accounting Office (GAO) investigate federal agencies' use of these devices on their own Web sites.
GAO only had time to investigate a small sample of federal agency sites, but they found a number of unauthorized cookies, despite the Clinton Administration's restriction on their use. In one case, GAO found a cookie that was operated by a third-party private company on an agency Web site under an agreement that gave the private company co-ownership of the data collected on visitors to the site.
As a follow-up to the GAO investigation, Congressman Jay Inslee and I worked together on an amendment to require all agency Inspectors General to report to Congress on each agency's Internet information-collection practices. The findings of these reports are cause for concern.
According to the Inspectors General, some federal agencies have been struggling to manage their Internet sites and data collection practices without violating Administration privacy policies. Although fewer than half of the reports have been completed, the Inspectors General identified 64 federal agency Internet sites that were using unauthorized information-collection devices during the last days of the Clinton Administration.
Most Inspectors General also commented on the need to create and enforce agency-wide procedures for the maintenance of federal Internet sites. I commend those Inspectors General that are working to eliminate cookies and bring the Web sites into compliance with existing privacy policies.
As Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, I am deeply concerned about privacy protection. Accordingly, I have held a number of hearings on the security of government computer systems and have conducted oversight of federal agencies to ensure that citizens' privacy is not being abused.
Recently, I introduced The Citizens' Privacy Commission Act. This bipartisan legislation will address the concerns people have about the potential misuse of their personal information by the government. It establishes an 11-member commission to examine how federal, state, and local governments collect and use our personal information.
The legislation also instructs the Commission to make recommendations to Congress on how to map out government privacy protections for the future. The Citizens' Privacy Commission will investigate all aspects of privacy in the government, such as FBI e-mail interception, IRS data security, agency Web site privacy, as well as the current applications of the Privacy Act of 1974 and other laws addressing government privacy practices.
One of the Bush Administration's early priorities should be to address the previous Administration's failure to comply with their own Internet privacy policy. The federal government should be setting the standard for privacy protection in the Information Age. I believe my legislation takes a critical and necessary step toward establishing privacy standards and guidelines for the future.
http://web.archive.org/web/20021020111655/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/052501.html

Weekly Column 05-18-01

TENNESSEE'S TROOPS DESERVEOUR THANKS AND SUPPORT
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
May 18, 2001
The State of Tennessee is rich in military tradition and is home to the finest men and women serving in our armed services. Each time I visit one of our state's military installations, I am so proud of the high level of skill and professionalism demonstrated by our troops. I recently had the honor of celebrating Armed Forces Day with members of the Tennessee Army National Guard at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Alcoa. It was an exciting day as we held a christening ceremony for the Guard's newest aircraft, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter.
State-of-the-art aircraft, like the Kiowa Warrior, are a necessity if our troops are to carry out their missions. Every single day, our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line, whether they are in battle or simply carrying out their daily duties. It is critical that our weapons systems remain on the cutting edge. During the Gulf War, our military technology was critical to our success. We must ensure that military technology continues to be a top priority.
I have said time and again that one of the primary responsibilities of the federal government is protecting the security of the American people. With the Cold War over, some argue that national security does not need to be as much of a priority as it once was. I disagree. It's true that we enjoy peace and prosperity, and it is true that America is the strongest country in the world. However, the world is still a dangerous place and rather than facing one primary threat, as was the case during the Cold War, we now face several.
Both Russia and China are proliferating weapons of mass destruction and the materials to produce them to nations like North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. As evidenced by the recent incident with our reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea, the Chinese are not happy about our presence in that part of the world. China and other nations are increasing their efforts to obtain our highly sensitive national security information - information that could one day be used against us.
As Members of Congress, we must ensure that our troops have the resources they need to carry out their duties. We must continue to increase funding for research and development, for procurement, and especially for quality of life. We cannot send our troops into battle ill-equipped.
We cannot continue to cannibalize our vehicles and aircraft, leaving some to sit unused.
We also cannot continue to ask our troops to do more with less, while increasing their operations and asking them to stay away from their families for longer periods of time. Many of our troops live in substandard housing, and some even qualify for food stamps. This is unacceptable. Fortunately, Congress has taken steps to improve their quality of life through pay increases, as well as increased funding for housing, recreational, and training facilities. We must continue this commitment.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626121614/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/051801.html

Weekly Column 05-11-01

TAX RELIEF FOR TENNESSEE IS A TOP PRIORITY
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
May 11, 2001
Federal taxes are at an all time high, and folks in Tennessee and across America bear a heavy tax burden. They are taxed when they work, when they put gas in their cars, when they buy groceries, when they save for the future, and even when they die. Folks should be rewarded, not punished, for working hard, and we in Congress are trying to do just that.
Both the House and Senate recently agreed on a federal budget for the next fiscal year. The purpose of the budget is to serve as a road map for how we will fund America's priorities. Included in this budget are dollars that will eventually be directed to Tennessee for priorities such as national defense, education, national parks and roads, help for our farmers, and a host of other important priorities.
I am very pleased that the budget also allows for significant tax relief for all Tennesseans. Specifically, the budget calls for $1.35 trillion in tax relief over the next eleven years, beginning this year (2001). In the next few weeks, the Senate will begin to map out the specifics of this plan.
The plan included in the budget will reduce income tax rates for every American taxpayer, with the greatest benefit going to the lowest-income taxpayers. As structured, it would remove six million low-income families from the tax rolls altogether. In addition, the plan provides for an immediate economic stimulus of $100 billion in 2001 and 2002, and authorizes additional tax or debt relief if surpluses exceed expectations.
We will also be working to repeal the death tax and provide significant marriage penalty relief. Folks should not have to pay nearly $1,400 more in taxes each year simply because they are married. Eliminating the death tax will ensure that our family farms and small businesses can be passed on for generations to come.
Recently, we recognized what many have come to call "Tax Freedom Day." This day was designated to emphasize the fact that many taxpayers actually work from January until the month of May just to pay their taxes. In 1992, National Tax Freedom Day fell on April 18, but with taxes now taking a larger portion of income, Tax Freedom Day was on May 3 this year.
We must put a stop to this trend. It's just common sense. When we have excess cash flowing into Washington, and we have more than we need to operate the government, we should return a little back to the folks who earned it in the first place. If we leave it in Washington, it will get spent. This money belongs to hard-working Tennesseans and that is who should decide how to spend it.
The President and the Congress are committed to providing tax relief this year. That's good news for Tennessee
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626121746/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/051101.html

Weekly Column 05-04-01

LONG OVERDUE STEPS TOWARD A MISSILE DEFENSE
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
May 4, 2001
President Bush recently announced plans to develop a National Missile Defense (NMD) system that would protect the United States and our allies from future attacks by rogue nations and terrorist groups. This robust, multi-layered system would incorporate ground and sea-based assets initially, and would also protect the U.S. from accidental and unauthorized launches.
I strongly support the President in this important initiative. Even though the Cold War is over, the world remains a dangerous place and the threats are growing. Rogue nations such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea have, or will soon have, the capability to launch a ballistic missile against the United States or its allies. Some of these countries have already conducted test launches. Many have extensive nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs; and a few of these countries are proliferating these dangerous technologies to others. Of particular concern to the U.S. is that many of these states use terror and intimidation as major foreign policy tools.
Deterrence alone is no longer an effective strategy. We must also develop the means to defend ourselves from the unpredictable and ever-changing threats we face today. Moreover, by building a missile defense system, we will also prevent the blackmail and coercion that adversaries may employ to limit our freedom of action abroad when our allies or interests are threatened. In addition, we may also deter potential adversaries from pursuing costly and time-consuming programs to build these destructive weapons.
Today's world is fundamentally different than it was 30 years ago. For that reason alone, we need different concepts and capabilities in order to defend our country and our interests. We must move beyond the constraints of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and do what is necessary to protect ourselves. That said, we should work with our allies and the Russians to establish a new framework, and a new relationship, that reflects today's strategic environment. To this end, the President will send senior U.S. officials to consult with our allies in Europe, Asia, and Canada, and to reach out to other interested countries. I applaud the President's willingness to take the time to hear the views of our friends and allies.
I am troubled that some do not recognize the need for measures that enhance our national security. Critics charge that missile defenses will start a new arms race, yet they fail to mention that China and Russia have been modernizing their nuclear forces for years. Opponents of NMD also cite the threat posed by "suitcase bombs" and other means as the ones requiring greater emphasis. We all agree that the United States should seek to counter the threat posed by terrorists armed with a weapon of mass destruction. This is why we spend more than $11 billion a year to deal with threat of terrorist attacks. At the same time, though, the $2 billion we spend annually on missile defense is wholly inadequate for addressing the rapidly growing threat of a missile attack. We need to do both in a balanced manner.
The federal government's primary role is to protect our country and its citizens. We in Congress are working to ensure that our military has the resources it needs, while we also strive to improve our defenses against terrorism and missile attack. While advances in technology have made the world smaller and the threats greater, they have also improved our ability to defend against these threats. But first, we must change our way of thinking as we seek to develop and employ new systems and technologies. What Thomas Jefferson said 200 years ago still rings true: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626122008/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/050401.html

Weekly Column 04-27-01

DURING THE FIRST 100 DAYS,A NEW TONE IS SET IN WASHINGTON
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
April 27, 2001
I have often said that lawmakers have a breach to repair with the folks who sent them to Washington to do their business. With each election, we see more disenchanted voters, fewer young voters, and greater cynicism than before. We in Congress are committed to working with President Bush to heal our political wounds, renew a spirit of optimism, and change the way we do business in Washington.
Upon being elected, President Bush said, "Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism." During his first 100 days in office, the President has worked to set a new tone in Washington, building on his promise to work with both Republicans and Democrats to address the issues that are important to Americans and Tennesseans. He promised to usher in a new way of thinking, and he is keeping his word.
Focusing on his compassionate conservative agenda, he has already presented plans to cut taxes, strengthen our economy, improve schools, empower faith-based and community organizations to help those in need, rebuild our military, and improve the quality of life for our men and women in uniform. During the first 100 days, America has faced some tense situations, particularly overseas, but the President has led with a steady hand without compromising our country's principles.
The President has been decisive, measured, and realistic with regard to foreign policy. He is committed to working with our friends and allies to advance our common security around the globe. During his first 100 days, the President traveled to Mexico and worked to strengthen alliances in our hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas in Canada, guided diplomacy that brought home our crew when they were unlawfully detained after a mid-air collision over the South China Sea, and personally met with more than 20 world leaders to build relationships and discuss common interests and concerns.
Only days after assuming office, the President took his education agenda into various elementary schools, meeting with teachers and visiting with students. One of the top priorities of the Bush Administration is to improve education, because every child in Tennessee and across America deserves a first class education that will carry them toward a bright and successful future. The President and Congress are near an agreement on a comprehensive, bipartisan education reform bill.
Earlier this year, the President submitted his first budget to Congress. It is a good budget that will fund important priorities, reduce historic levels of debt, and provide tax relief to working families in Tennessee and across the country. We have been working to cut taxes across the board while also eliminating the marriage penalty and the death tax and providing education tax credits. The Senate passed the budget with the support of no less than fifteen Democrats, proof that an emphasis on teamwork is yielding results.
Recognizing the importance of bipartisanship, the President has met with members of both parties to discuss the issues. In addition, he has taken his agenda directly to the people by visiting more than half of our states already.
The President's leadership is helping to replace a culture of gridlock and cynicism in our nation's capital with a constructive spirit of bipartisan respect. When debate is focused on shared values, respect, and results, accomplishments will prevail.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020527145202/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/042701.html

Weekly Column 04-06-01

A VICTORY IN THE FIGHT FORCAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
April 6, 2001
Recently, the Senate took a major step to change the message we are sending to the American people. By a 59-41 vote, we passed the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001. The McCain-Feingold bill bans soft money contributions, restricts corporate and union spending on campaign ads, and provides greater disclosure and stronger elections laws.
When I ran for office in 1994, I promised to try to change the way Washington works, including the way we finance our federal campaigns. In 1995, I cosponsored the original legislation introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) to ban "soft money" -- the unlimited and unregulated sums of money that flow into political parties. Soft money was originally intended for grassroots party building activities that didn't benefit individual campaigns. Now the political parties are just a conduit for soft money, which goes almost directly to assist individual campaigns.
We were unsuccessful in our initial effort to pass campaign finance reform and the problem got worse. The ability to use soft money to fund sham issue ads created a non-stop money chase that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars being exchanged for access to the highest levels of government. The final report of our Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Special Investigation in 1997 documented numerous examples of apparent and actual corruption involving soft money. In 2000, the national political parties took in unregulated soft money contributions totaling almost half a billion dollars.
Even where there is no wrongdoing, there are still serious appearance problems when you have all that money going to the parties to be spent on individual candidates when Congress is considering important pieces of legislation. It seems every time we debate an issue we read about how much money those affected by it have donated to the parties. When this occurs, we are all diminished. The American people cannot trust a government they believe is influenced by large corporations, labor unions, and a few wealthy individuals. Due to the soft money chase, we have moved from a system based on many small contributors to one based on a few huge contributors.
I am increasingly concerned that the people we were elected to serve have lost faith in the political process. Too many people do not even bother to vote because they suspect that their voices are drowned out by five- and six-figure donations. I believe passage of McCain-Feingold will help change that. We can help restore the public's confidence in the way we fund our elections by eliminating these massive, unregulated soft money contributions.
While we move to rid the political system of special interests' soft money, we should find a way to increase the regulated "hard money" contribution limit. The costs of running a campaign have increased ten-fold since the $1,000 hard money contribution was put in place in 1974. In order to bridge this disparity, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and I sponsored an amendment to the McCain-Feingold bill that increases the amount of "hard money" individuals can contribute to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000 and indexes it for inflation.
Hard money is the most legitimate and most fully disclosed way for individuals to financially support a candidate. The $1,000 hard money limit had not been raised since 1974 and, given the increasing cost of advertising, was making it difficult for anyone other than incumbents and millionaires to effectively get their message to the voters. Now, a challenger will have an easier time raising the legitimate money needed to compete. The higher limit will also allow members of Congress to spend less time fundraising and more time legislating.
I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to reform our campaign finance system. The McCain-Feingold bill is an important first step in restoring the public's trust in their government and in their elected officials.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626121129/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/040601.html

Weekly Column 03-30-01

TAX FAIRNESS FOR TENNESSEE
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
March 30, 2001
Tennesseans are discriminated against under federal tax laws simply because our state chooses to raise revenue primarily through a sales tax instead of an income tax. Federal law enables taxpayers to deduct their state income tax from their federal tax liability, but not their state sales tax. That's unfair.
Therefore, residents of eight states are treated differently from residents of states that have an income tax. Six states ? Texas, Wyoming, Florida, South Dakota, Washington, and Nevada ? have no state income tax. Two states ? Tennessee and New Hampshire ? only impose an income tax on interest and dividends, but not wages. Tennesseans pay more than $750 million more in taxes to the federal government each year than they should because of this inequity in the tax code.
I have introduced legislation that will address this by allowing taxpayers to deduct either their state and local sales taxes or their state and local income taxes on their federal tax forms, but not both.
Prior to 1986, taxpayers were permitted to deduct all of their state and local taxes paid (including income, sales and property taxes) when computing their federal tax liability. The ability to deduct all state and local taxes is based on the principle that levying a tax on a tax is unfair. In 1986, however, Congress made dramatic changes to the tax code. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 significantly reduced federal tax rates on individuals. In exchange for these lower rates, Congress broadened the base of income that is taxed by eliminating many of the deductions and credits that previously existed in the code, including the deduction for state and local sales taxes. The deduction for state and local income taxes, however, was retained.
It's long past time to restore equity for persons living in states without an income tax. My legislation would do this in a fair and simple manner. Under the legislation, persons claiming a deduction for state and local sales taxes would simply have to refer to an IRS chart to determine the amount they could deduct. The amount of the deduction would be based on a taxpayer's income and family size. This way, taxpayers would not be burdened with keeping track of their receipts all year.
Passage of this legislation won't be easy, as only eight other states share Tennessee's situation, but it's an effort we must undertake. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House and the Tennessee delegation is working in a bi-partisan manner to generate support for our effort.
I believe that our federal tax laws should be neutral with respect to the treatment of state and local taxes. The current tax code is biased in favor of states that raise revenue through an income tax. I strongly support comprehensive reform of the tax code that will address issues such as neutrality, fairness and simplicity. As we work to reform the overall tax code, restoring equity in this area should be a part of the discussion.
http://web.archive.org/web/20021020105534/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/033001.html

Weekly Column 03-16-01

ADDRESSING INHERITED MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS WILL BE VITAL TO BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S SUCCESS
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
March 16, 2001
The Bush Administration begins with an array of pre-existing management problems of unprecedented depth and breadth that will severely test the President's ability to achieve his policy goals. The federal government's core management problems have persisted for years and, in fact, have grown worse. In 1990, the General Accounting Office (GAO) launched its biennial ?high risk list' with 14 problem areas. The list issued this year contains 22.
We're living on borrowed time. Peace and prosperity mask a lot of these problems, but that won't always be the case. When we no longer have peace and prosperity, who's going to trust the federal government if we've eroded public confidence by failing to address these problems?
There are four overarching areas that I believe are the most pervasive and critical:
Financial management. Poor financial management wastes billions of taxpayer dollars each year. No one knows how much because the federal government makes no comprehensive effort to keep track of it.
Information technology management. Advances in information technology have yet to register with the federal government. In addition, weaknesses in government information systems make them vulnerable to computer attacks. This vulnerability poses national security threats and jeopardizes the confidentiality of sensitive information on individuals the government holds.
Human capital management. Recent government downsizing has been conducted without any strategic planning for the workforce needs of the 21st century. As a result, agencies lack workforces with the necessary skills and experience to perform their missions.
Program overlap and fragmentation. The federal statute books are full of programs created randomly over the years in response to the real or perceived needs of the moment. Once created, however, it is virtually impossible to eliminate them even if they have long since ceased serving their purpose.
These problems cause hardships for all Americans. Human capital weaknesses threaten the Social Security Administration's ability to serve the public. Beneficiaries often can't get accurate information by phone and wait hours for appointments. Flight delays have more than doubled over the last five years, yet our air traffic control system is based on archaic technology. Many programs lose significant portions of their budgets to waste, fraud and abuse.
The tools to fix these problems exist, however, via management improvement laws enacted by Congress over the last decade and recommendations provided by the GAO and the various agency inspectors general. However, the missing ingredient up to now has been leadership and sustained commitment from the President and Congress.
The President must make clear in word and deed that resolving these management problems is one of his priorities, and that he will keep after the agencies and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) until the job is done. OMB and the agencies must then follow up and establish specific performance goals, strategies and timetables to meet them. In addition, agencies must identify, and Congress must provide, the funding needed to resolve the problems. However, funding must be linked to results.
I believe that the federal government should be smaller, more efficient, and more accountable to the American people, and I was very encouraged by early indications that the Bush Administration is taking management and performance improvement seriously. OMB Director Mitch Daniels recently instructed agencies to develop performance goals to implement the President's management reform initiatives and to resolve their mission-critical problems. Likewise, the preliminary budget blueprint that the Administration put out last week has more to say on management improvements than anything I've seen in years.
During the 107th Congress, the Governmental Affairs Committee, which I chair, will work to encourage and support those efforts.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020527145313/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/031601.html

Weekly Column 02-16-01

A Two-Pronged Approach to China
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
February 16, 2001
Many experts are now focusing on China's future. The optimists point out that with the advent of the Internet, modern telecommunications and free trade, China will become more free and open. Pessimists, on the other hand, remind us that China is an emerging power, and that emerging powers more often than not try to change the realities of the world around them.
An unsettling Chinese white paper on national defense released last November characterized the United States as a global menace and a threat to peace. And a Defense Department report on China's military power, which was delivered to Congress last year, said that China's leaders have been discussing ways to counter U.S. power, including accelerating their military modernization, pursuing strategic cooperation with Russia, and increasing China's weapons proliferation activities abroad.
No one is sure how China will evolve, but we do know that we must try to engage China in trade, hope for democratic change, and remain firm on our policies, priorities, and interests. Unfortunately, over the last eight years, when it came to Chinese military money going to the Democratic National Committee, China's theft of the designs of our most sophisticated nuclear warheads, or Beijing's threats against Taiwan, the Clinton Administration's response was usually inadequate. And in each case, a timid U.S. response led to a more assertive China.
President Bush is correct when he says that China is neither our enemy nor our strategic partner; China is clearly our competitor. While we are troubled by their proliferation record, regional assertiveness, and threatening statements toward the United States and our friends in Asia, we can be encouraged by the Chinese people's desire for greater political freedom, individual rights, and reform.
Like many, I believe that increased trade and engagement may help open up China in the long run and give the Chinese people the means to bring about political, social, and economic reform. But, at the same time, I believe we must be clear and consistent about our commitment to universal principles such as human rights and religious freedom and our desire to advance the rule of law and democracy.
The United States must also welcome China into the World Trade Organization, for its participation is important to our long term economic growth and China's long term political reform. While doing so, we must demand that Beijing stick to its agreements, abide by the rules of the WTO, and support Taiwan's entry into the WTO at the same time.
The U.S. walks a delicate tightrope as it balances national security, foreign policy and trade with China. Free trade and open markets are essential to continued prosperity, and promoting our values abroad are also important, but our national security cannot be sacrificed for the promise of future profits. Nowhere is this choice between trade and security more difficult, or more important, than in the area of China's continued proliferation activities, including its diversion of sensitive, commercially-available "dual-use" technologies.
We must be clear to the Chinese that the U.S. will not tolerate the continued transfer of dangerous items to rogue states and others, or for China's own military modernization efforts. After all, at a time when China is being invited to become a member in good standing of the global trading community, is it asking too much for a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to obey international rules and norms with regard to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other technology? For example, the Bush Administration has recently confronted the Chinese about the sale of fiber-optic cables to Iraq in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Administration officials point out that the fiber-optic cables provided by the Chinese would link Iraqi anti-aircraft systems and endanger U.S. and British pilots enforcing no-fly zones over Iraq.
Next, the United States should deploy as soon as technologically possible a robust, multi- tiered missile defense system that will protect us against ballistic missiles from rogue states like North Korea. Beijing is deeply concerned that a NMD will nullify its own plan and could even lead to missile defenses for Taiwan. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that the United States must act in its national interests to protect our country.
Finally, the United States needs to dedicate more resources and attention to bolstering our intelligence capabilities; tightening security at our national labs, facilities, and federal agencies; and strengthening our export controls. And we must ensure that our armed forces are the best trained and equipped in the world and that they are able to meet the new, technically sophisticated threats that are emerging.
It goes without saying that we do not want a shaky relationship with a country as important as China to degenerate further. It is equally obvious that turning a blind eye toward activity that is harmful to our interests has not improved our relationship with China. We must demonstrate strength as well as restraint to them and the rest of the world. We cannot afford to take one approach without the other.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626120632/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/021601.html

Weekly Column 02-09-01

Help for Our Local Heroes
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
February 9, 2001
Among the new proposals President Bush introduced during his first few weeks in office, one in particular may change the way we provide help for those in need. Last week, President Bush proposed a new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and introduced a plan to allow faith-based organizations to compete for federal funding for social services.
Private charities are the cornerstones of many communities' efforts to help their citizens in need. Over the years, research has proved that faith-based organizations are successful in reducing addiction, abuse and juvenile crime. Many communities, as well as state governments, have their own faith-based initiative programs. Faith-based programs and organizations have a long history of successfully reaching out to Tennesseans who need their help, including at-risk youth, the poor, or those addicted to illegal drugs.
For example, St. Luke's Community House serves families in a largely low-income district of West Nashville. St. Luke's was founded by Daughters of the King and provides care for children, counseling for families, and services for senior citizens, among its many important functions. St. Luke's operates solely on volunteer support and donations.
Under President Bush's plan, St. Luke's and thousands more faith-based community groups will be able to compete with non-faith-based organizations for federal funding under the expansion of the Charitable Choice plan. Currently, Charitable Choice allows faith-based groups to compete on equal-footing for federal welfare funds while forbidding religious discrimination against the recipients of the services. President Bush believes that, just as Charitable Choice worked as part of welfare reform, the federal government should not impede the efforts of private charities or discriminate against faith-based institutions as long as the organizations provide social services and do not promote religion.
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) and parallel offices in a number of federal agencies will examine areas where executive action, legislation, or regulatory relief will lend a hand to faith-based organizations that are successfully serving the needy in Tennessee and across the nation.
The Bush Faith-Based initiative will also encourage charitable giving by expanding the charitable deduction for the 80 million taxpayers who don't itemize on their tax returns. It will allow penalty-free IRA withdrawals from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for charitable contributions.
I believe that we should stop spending billions of dollars on programs we don't know are working and allow faith-based programs to compete for this funding. These programs can work, and the federal government can set this initiative up in a way that satisfies Constitution requirements. President Bush's proposal for the Faith-Based initiative is an example of what can happen when government decision-makers search for creative approaches to building effective social programs.
Across America, community organizations like St. Luke's are lifting people out of poverty and despair, one act of compassion at a time. These unsung local heroes can't reach every needy person because the government has not viewed them as partners in the fight to improve the quality of life for these Americans. President Bush's plan will remove the barriers that prevent community and faith-based groups from feeding the hungry, fighting crime, strengthening families, and overcoming poverty.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020627063715/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/020901.html

Weekly Column 01-24-01

Restoring Faith in Our Political System
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
January 24, 2001
Lawmakers have a breach to repair with the folks who sent them to Washington to do their business. With each election, we see more disenchanted voters, fewer young voters, and greater cynicism than in the one before. There's one explanation for this disenchantment---there's too much unregulated money in politics.
If lawmakers are going to regain the trust of the American people, we are going to have to repair a broken system of financing our election campaigns. Our current system of money and politics serves no one well, and it furthers some Americans' belief that their votes and participation in our democracy don't count. That's certainly not what the Founding Fathers envisioned, and it's not a situation that we can ignore.
This week I joined a bipartisan coalition including Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and others to introduce the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001.
I have long been a supporter of campaign finance reform and joined Senators McCain and Feingold when they first began the battle to rid our election system of the unregulated and unlimited contributions to political parties called "soft money" back in 1995. But this time around, the fight seems different. We've been joined by a number of others who believe, like we do, that it is time to get rid of these large, unregulated "soft money" contributions that leave so many Americans with the feeling that they don't have a say in their government's agenda. More Americans than ever seem to feel that this is a fight worth taking up, and they're asking their members of Congress to support campaign finance reform. It seems like the tide is turning.
In the last election, both national political parties saw unregulated contributions of up to $500,000. Our legislation will put a stop to the practice of raising these exorbitant, unlimited amounts of "soft money" by prohibiting all such contributions to the national political parties from corporations, labor unions, and wealthy individuals.
If you watched television at all in the months preceding the November presidential election, you probably noticed the ads funded by corporations and unions. These ads stuck to the letter of the law by avoiding the use of appeals to "vote for" or "vote against" a particular candidate, but they violated the spirit of the law by disguising their appeals as issue ads. McCain-Feingold-Cochran will address the spiraling proliferation of these ads by prohibiting labor unions and for-profit corporations from spending their treasury funds on "electioneering communications" within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election.
The bill will also strengthen existing law to ensure that foreign money stays out of the American political system. It will prohibit foreign nationals from making any contributions in a federal, state, or local election.
Finally, the legislation will bring greater transparency and strength to our election laws by improving the disclosure of campaign finance information and strengthening the enforcement of the law. It will provide for more timely disclosure of independent expenditures and clarify the circumstances under which activities by outside groups are considered to be coordinated with candidates. The legislation will bar federal candidates from converting campaign funds for personal use, and it will strengthen current law to make it expressly clear that it is unlawful to raise or solicit campaign contributions on federal property.
Individually, I plan to work on increasing the "hard money" limits. Not only have our "hard money" limits fallen behind in terms of the enormous expenses attendant to running a campaign, but the focus of campaigns has changed from "hard money" to "soft money" to independent ads in the last election. McCain-Feingold-Cochran addresses these areas, but we can do more. I plan to pursue an increase in the "hard money" limits because I believe it will help counter the increasing influence of independent groups. The current "hard money" limit, the maximum amount an individual can contribute to a candidate, was set at $1000 in 1974 and has never been increased to reflect inflation. Increasing the contribution limit will help candidates facing wealthy, self-financed candidates and will allow members of Congress to spend less time fundraising and more time legislating.
We just witnessed one of the closest elections in American history. It taught us that now, more than ever, every vote counts. So it's time to rid Washington of even the semblance of corruption by cleaning up the way we finance our campaigns. I believe that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is a good framework to do so, and I'll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make some significant progress on this issue.
http://web.archive.org/web/20020626115738/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/012401.html

Weekly Column 01-17-01

U.S. Intelligence in the 21st Century
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
January 17, 2001
On August 31, 1998, North Korea test-fired a missile with the potential of striking U.S. territory. Though our intelligence community was aware of a possible missile launch, it was surprised when the missile sported a third stage, allowing it to travel much farther than expected. Our intelligence analysis on the missile's capabilities had been woefully incomplete. Most recently, the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole was a tragic reminder of the need for detailed and timely intelligence of current threats. These failings put our nation at risk and demonstrated the need for reform within our intelligence community.
When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, many believed that the United States, as the world's sole remaining superpower, could afford to cut back on its intelligence gathering operations. In fact, some went as far as to propose dismantling several of our intelligence agencies. Beginning in 1993, the intelligence community was forced make serious budget cuts, which limited their recruitment of new sources, restricted their analysis of intelligence information, and postponed the modernization of their surveillance and communication systems. These shortfalls resulted in an overall decline in our intelligence capabilities.
The end of the Cold War, however, has not brought a decrease in assignments for our intelligence services. Rather, they have experienced an unprecedented growth in their responsibilities. During the last half of the twentieth century, our intelligence agencies focused primarily on monitoring Soviet military power; today, we focus on numerous threats---the rogue states and others---and on a wider variety of issues. The intelligence community is now required to report on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by supplier states, the development of ballistic missiles by rogue nations, the activities of terrorist groups, and the smuggling of illegal drugs. And intelligence officials provide critical information on diplomatic negotiations, regional conflicts, and impending crises. These new assignments have required the intelligence community to reinvent itself with new goals, purposes, and means.
Over the last five years, Congress has expressed considerable concern about the erosion in our country's intelligence capabilities. In particular, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), which is one of two congressional committees responsible for overseeing our intelligence agencies, has worked hard to reverse this trend. In the past, the SSCI has taken the lead on reforms that have improved our intelligence agencies' collection and analysis capabilities, improved the protection of classified information, eliminated the duplication of work, and streamlined costs. Most recently, the SSCI advocated increased funding for modernization and investments in intelligence gathering resources; the restructuring of some of our more convoluted agencies; and the reduction in government waste.
I am honored to the have opportunity to join the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 107th Congress. This new assignment will build upon my experience as a former member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and now, as the Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. And it will be provide an excellent opportunity to keep working on tightening U.S. export controls, enforcing sanctions laws, responding to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and developing a National Missile Defense.
This year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is expected to look at new ways to further enhance our nation's intelligence capabilities. As a member of the committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure additional funding for more human intelligence; the modernization of our electronic surveillance assets; and the purchase of advanced communications systems. On the policy side, we'll look at ways to help the intelligence community increase its support for military operations; upgrade security at our weapons facilities; better protect its classified information; and implement more effective management, accountability, and reporting standards.
As we enter the twenty-first century, the United States is, without a doubt, the world's preeminent economic, military, and political power. While few countries will risk a direct confrontation with the U.S., there are many that seek to challenge us indirectly through terrorism, espionage, and cyber-attacks. Our intelligence agencies are our first line of defense against such attacks. As the North Korean missile launch clearly demonstrated, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole reminded us, there is still much that must be done. Our intelligence agencies need a boost, and it is time to provide it.
http://web.archive.org/web/20021020110727/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/011701.html

Weekly Column 01-17-01

U.S. Intelligence in the 21st Century
by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
January 17, 2001
On August 31, 1998, North Korea test-fired a missile with the potential of striking U.S. territory. Though our intelligence community was aware of a possible missile launch, it was surprised when the missile sported a third stage, allowing it to travel much farther than expected. Our intelligence analysis on the missile's capabilities had been woefully incomplete. Most recently, the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole was a tragic reminder of the need for detailed and timely intelligence of current threats. These failings put our nation at risk and demonstrated the need for reform within our intelligence community.
When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, many believed that the United States, as the world's sole remaining superpower, could afford to cut back on its intelligence gathering operations. In fact, some went as far as to propose dismantling several of our intelligence agencies. Beginning in 1993, the intelligence community was forced make serious budget cuts, which limited their recruitment of new sources, restricted their analysis of intelligence information, and postponed the modernization of their surveillance and communication systems. These shortfalls resulted in an overall decline in our intelligence capabilities.
The end of the Cold War, however, has not brought a decrease in assignments for our intelligence services. Rather, they have experienced an unprecedented growth in their responsibilities. During the last half of the twentieth century, our intelligence agencies focused primarily on monitoring Soviet military power; today, we focus on numerous threats---the rogue states and others---and on a wider variety of issues. The intelligence community is now required to report on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by supplier states, the development of ballistic missiles by rogue nations, the activities of terrorist groups, and the smuggling of illegal drugs. And intelligence officials provide critical information on diplomatic negotiations, regional conflicts, and impending crises. These new assignments have required the intelligence community to reinvent itself with new goals, purposes, and means.
Over the last five years, Congress has expressed considerable concern about the erosion in our country's intelligence capabilities. In particular, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), which is one of two congressional committees responsible for overseeing our intelligence agencies, has worked hard to reverse this trend. In the past, the SSCI has taken the lead on reforms that have improved our intelligence agencies' collection and analysis capabilities, improved the protection of classified information, eliminated the duplication of work, and streamlined costs. Most recently, the SSCI advocated increased funding for modernization and investments in intelligence gathering resources; the restructuring of some of our more convoluted agencies; and the reduction in government waste.
I am honored to the have opportunity to join the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 107th Congress. This new assignment will build upon my experience as a former member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and now, as the Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. And it will be provide an excellent opportunity to keep working on tightening U.S. export controls, enforcing sanctions laws, responding to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and developing a National Missile Defense.
This year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is expected to look at new ways to further enhance our nation's intelligence capabilities. As a member of the committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure additional funding for more human intelligence; the modernization of our electronic surveillance assets; and the purchase of advanced communications systems. On the policy side, we'll look at ways to help the intelligence community increase its support for military operations; upgrade security at our weapons facilities; better protect its classified information; and implement more effective management, accountability, and reporting standards.
As we enter the twenty-first century, the United States is, without a doubt, the world's preeminent economic, military, and political power. While few countries will risk a direct confrontation with the U.S., there are many that seek to challenge us indirectly through terrorism, espionage, and cyber-attacks. Our intelligence agencies are our first line of defense against such attacks. As the North Korean missile launch clearly demonstrated, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole reminded us, there is still much that must be done. Our intelligence agencies need a boost, and it is time to provide it.
http://web.archive.org/web/20021020110727/thompson.senate.gov/press/2001/columns/011701.html

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Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson
Former U.S. Senator (R-TN)