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Wednesday November 30, 2011 | 05:37 PM

The Obama administration would be charged with taking more action to Libya’s stockpile of portable anti-aircraft missiles out of the hands of terrorists, under legislation co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that was included today in a broader defense bill.

Collins co-authored the amendment with two Democrats, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Collins is the top Republican on the Senate’s homeland security committee and is a member of the armed services committee.

The amendment says the Obama administration needs to conduct an immediate intelligence assessment of the threat posed by an estimated 20,000 missiles thought to be in Libya but not in safe hands, and to develop a strategy to cope with the potential threat of the missiles falling into the hands of terrorists.

This isn’t the first time Collins has raised the issue. She and Shaheen earlier this fall sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and then spearheaded a letter to President Obama expressing concern about reports of stockpiles of the missiles being unsecured or already stolen.

“Reports continue to surface of looted stockpiles and weapons proliferating to other countries in the region,” Collins said in a statement. “By adopting this amendment, my colleagues in the Senate have reiterated the importance of understanding the threat from Libyan missiles to Americans and our allies, and ensuring that we have a strategy to secure them with a sense of urgency.”

The amendment was accepted into the defense bill by unanimous consent, meaning no roll call was required. The defense bill is expected to be approved later this week by the Senate.


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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