In only his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, William Keating (D - Bourne) has proven himself an impressive voice on issues of national security. It's unusual for a junior member of Congress to distinguish himself so early on in his legislative career, but using his experience as the former Norfolk County District Attorney and his committee assignments on the House's Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committees, Keating's done just that.
Soon after being elected in 2010, he used his prowess as a former district attorney to question then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the gaping holes -- literally -- in airport security. His concern was raised after North Carolina teen Delvonte Tisdale breached the perimeter of Charlotte Douglas International Airport to stowaway in the wheel well of a plane bound for Boston. Tragically, the teen fell to his death over Milton.
Last year, Keating wrote the FBI demanding to know how Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell off the radar of federal counterterrorism teams despite warnings from Russian intelligence services. He wondered why information about the Tsarnaev brothers wasn't shared with local law enforcement and questioned loopholes in U.S. terrorism "watch lists." It puts all that data collecting by the National Security Agency into perspective, doesn't it.
Keating has also been vocal in urging the FBI to release information in its questionable shooting death of Ibragim Todashev during questioning last May. Todashev, a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was reportedly unarmed and being interviewed by an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers when he was shot multiple times by the FBI agent. A rash of contradictory reports from "sources" alleging Todashev had pulled a sword -- or was it a broom or a pipe -- on the agent followed in the days after his death, but none were ever substantiated. So far, the FBI has refused to answer questions about the incident, but is reportedly "eager" to release its internal investigation soon.
Just this week, Keating went to Moscow and then Sochi, the site of the Winter Olympics, to investigate for himself the security measures in place to protect both those participating in the games and those attending following serious threats. Islamic militants in Dagestan have taken responsibility for two suicide attacks last month in Volgograd, which killed 34 and are believed linked to the games. Russian security officials are now seeking three "Black Widow" bombers who reportedly penetrated the Sochi perimeter ahead of the Olympics next month.
On Wednesday night, moments after returning from Russia, Keating met with the press to update them on measures Russian officials are taking to protect the games and to discuss his ongoing investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's contacts in Dagestan. How's that for transparency in government?
In a few short years, Keating has proven his sincere commitment to protecting Americans from further terrorist attacks. In doing so, he's become a leading force in Congress. We're proud to call him one of our own.
(This article originally appeared in the Patriot Ledger)