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Cardin, U.S. Delegation Discuss Counter-Terrorism with Top Spanish Officials

MADRID–U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation, and a bipartisan Congressional delegation meeting with high level Spanish officials today expressed appreciation to the Spanish government for strengthening efforts to combat terrorism.

The delegation today met with Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, Minister of Interior; Angel Lossada Torres-Quevedo, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; and Bernardino Leon, Secretary General of the Presidency. Spain is currently president of the 27-country European Union.

“Spain’s announcement Monday that it will receive five detainees from Guantanamo Bay and the country’s plan to send an additional 500 troops to help fight the Taliban in Afghanistan underscores the strength of our bilateral relationship on critical security matters,” said Senator Chairman Cardin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee. “We share Spain’s disappointment with the European Parliament’s failure to approve an interim agreement to track terrorist financing. Security needs can’t wait for political maneuvering. We are sensitive to privacy concerns, but this program addressed those concerns while generating leads to disrupt terrorist acts. We strongly support quick action to develop a new agreement to provide for needed information-sharing.”

Cardin pledged to work with Spain and with parliamentarians in the OSCE to build support for a terror financing tracking agreement.

Other members of the delegation raised concerns related to body scanning and port security.

“We don’t need another wake-up call like the attempted Christmas Day bomber to remind us of the critical need to increase airport security,” said Helsinki Commissioner Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). “I look forward to seeing results of European studies on the usefulness and health concerns related to full body scanners. If new screening methods will prevent another attempt like passengers saw in the air two months ago, then they should be put into affect.”

“Considering Spain’s strategic location at the gateway to the Mediterranean strengthening cargo container and port security here is essential,” said Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA), whose district includes the Port of Long Beach, the third largest port in the world. “Spain’s cargo screening efforts are key to our global security, but more actual inspections of containers are needed. We talk about planes and trains a lot, but ports must be protected as well, because it only takes one malicious shipment to injure innocent and severely disrupt international commerce.”

The delegation, which includes Commissioner Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS), stopped at Naval Station Rota for a military brieifng Monday. The delegation is en route to the Winter Meeting of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Feb.18-19 in Vienna, Austria. The meeting with more than 200 parliamentarians from the 56 countries will include a special debate on Afghanistan.

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