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Meet Senator Thompson

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekly Column 12-20-01

Education and Retention Essential To Our National Security
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
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



Fred Thompson

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