Lawmakers hold a press conference to announce the formation of a joint Senate and House, bipartisan counterterrorism caucus at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Room 432B at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
State Rep. John Bennett announced the formation of a bipartisan Counterterrorism Caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature during a press conference held today.
Bennett, who chairs the caucus, was flanked at the press conference by a number of state senators and representatives, including caucus co-chairman state Rep. Gus Blackwell, as he detailed the formation of the first-ever counterterrorism caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature. Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Rita Aragon, the secretary of veteran affairs in Oklahoma, also attended and will participate in the caucus.
“We believe that the time has come to address the potential terrorists threats facing the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Bennett, R-Sallisaw. “Few people realize the nature and extent of the threats we face and our mission is to identify publicly those threats and come up with a strategy to defeat them.”
Bennett, who served as a Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Specialist with the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan, also pointed out that the Counterterrorism Caucus grew out of a grassroots movement of concerned citizens and identified several of the civilian leaders in attendance.
“We the people have spoken and we, their elected representatives, are listening,” said Bennett.
Citing evidence from United States vs. The Holy Land Foundation (2008), a federal district court case in Dallas that was the largest terrorism-financing trial in the history of the United States, Bennett talked about the threat of Sharia law.
“We are concerned about the possibility of Muslim Brotherhood organizations operating here in Oklahoma whose stated goal is replace our Constitution with Shariah law.”
Other speaker at the press conference included state Rep. Sally Kern, who is the sponsor of the American Laws for American Courts bill, and state Sen. Ralph Shortey, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate.
The caucus will also focus on other areas of concern that were mentioned include environmental terrorism and the so-called “lone wolf” terrorists similar to those responsible for the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing.
Bennett also pointed out that former CIA Director James Woolsey spoke last year at the High Noon Club in support of the American Laws for American Courts bill and that LTG (Ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin, former commanding general of Delta Force. He also spoke at several other functions by grassroots organizations.
“We had some national leaders who came to Oklahoma last year to help draw attention to some of the issues we are facing and we intend to continue that practice,” said Bennett.