In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, the Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum was developed to provide better awareness and collaboration with our allies to defeat Islamic terrorism. As a result of the 11 Fora hosted to date, this strategic international venue has provided the opportunity for Members of Parliament throughout the world to learn from experts on vital matters of national security.
Former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, encouraged me to organize the initial Forum in the fall of 2014, in which 124 Members of Parliament from 24 European nations attended. At that time, I had just assumed the role of Chairman of the Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare succeeding former Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Prior to then, Members of Parliament were largely uninformed of the intelligence work between the Executive branches of our governments, and as such, were critical of U.S. policies related to intelligence data sharing. The initial Forum addressed their concerns regarding privacy, civil liberties, and America’s oversight, which began the process to re-establish trust.
A working bond developed among the Parliamentarians and we expanded our discussions to include collaboration on counter terrorism financing, intelligence sharing, blockchain, cyber security and malicious foreign investment of sensitive technology. Many Members of Parliament have attended multiple Fora.
Over the past two years I have also led a national campaign to prevent China from acquiring sensitive American technology and financial companies, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, Lattice Semiconductor, and MoneyGram. As well, I led bipartisan efforts which resulted in China’s ZTE being severely punished for selling embargoed technology to Iran and North Korea.
From these initiatives, we recognized the need for comprehensive legislation to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which I led with Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, and has been signed into law by President Trump. Expert analysis on the need to block malicious foreign investment, which targets national security, will be included in upcoming fora.
In the House Financial Services Committee, I worked closely with Chairman Jeb Hensarling to begin the Committee’s work on counter terrorism financing, which led to the creation of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance. This role, as well the Parliamentary Fora, my service on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and my leadership to reform CFIUS, provide a strong foundation for my international work.
Over the last five years, I have given leadership to organizing and hosting 11 Parliamentary Fora involving over 700 Members of Parliament and foreign Ambassadors from 68 countries. Experts from the government, private sector, and prominent think tanks have participated in the Fora, held in Washington, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Berlin, and Riga. At present, we are planning a December Forum in Washington.
Enclosed you will find reports on each Forum, including assessments from State Department officials and feedback from Members of Parliament. We have interest from many foreign governments to host future Fora throughout the world.
Chairman, Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare