Chris Dodd on Homeland Security
Democratic Sr Senator (CT)
A: Iím the only candidate here who has articulated a large national service program. I served in the Peace Corps back in the 1960s. I joined because an American president asked me to. He invited a generation of us to be involved in things larger than ourselves. I donít see a need for the draft. I donít believe that is necessary. But if you are going to have one I think it ought to be gender neutral. But I believe we ought to do what Maryland has done. Maryland has a requirement that every high school student commit 100 hours of public service in your community. Iíd like that to be a part of every community. So Iím a very strong advocate of universal national service--not required, but extending that invitation to people be involved.
A: Obviously, national security, keeping the country safe. When you take the oath of office, you promise to do two things, and that is to protect and defend the Constitution of the US and protect our country against enemies both foreign and domestic. If there were totally free elections in many of the countries today, the Islamic Jihad or Brotherhood would win 85% of the vote. Thatís not a great outcome for us at this point either.
The president has maintained that the US is in a state of war against terrorism, and therefore has the authority to hold enemy combatants indefinitely without trial, formal charges, or revealment of evidence against them. There was no significant challenge to them until the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld reached the Supreme Court.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that the president needed the approval of Congress to pursue measures other than those expressly dictated by existing US laws and treaties. The presidentís quick response was to propose legislation that would have Congress rubber-stamp his initial practices. He demanded a free hand in interrogation--a circumstance that was deeply troubling.
A: I would disagree with that. This was all part of the Military Commissions Act which was adopted last fall. There were only a handful of us that voted against it at the time. And Iíve written legislation to overturn it. Iíll offer no better witness here than John McCain, who said that during those terrible years he was incarcerated and tortured, he would say anything to those interrogators in order to stop the physical pain. So we need to reinforce the idea here; this is a dreadful way to collect information We need to do other things to make sure it happens. But walking away from international conventions, as we did with the Geneva Conventions to disallow the restrictions on torture, I think, is a mistake, and also to walk away from habeas corpus.
Q: Maybe one of the worst votes cast in the Congress, maybe in the last 20 years, was last fall, on the Military Commissions Act, in which we allowed the abandonment of habeas corpus, returning to torture, and abandoning the Geneva Convention. I thought about filibustering that bill, and I didnít do it. I regret that deeply. I canít think of a worse vote we cast, to walk away from the Constitution.
Q: Do you support modifying the Social Security System to pay survivor benefits to the same sex partners of gay and lesbian people?
Q: Do you support fair and equal tax treatment of same sex couples on the same basis as married couples?
Q: Do you support domestic partner coverage for gay and lesbian employees of the civilian federal workforce?
Terrorismís a real issue. Itís going to require a collective effort on behalf our nation working with others to make a difference. Terrorism is a tactic, itís not a philosophy, and itís going to require an inordinate amount of cooperation to solve that. Having the kind of first responders at home like the firefighters and police and EMS services that have the tools and the ability to stand up and defend our country has not been funded.
While we havenít been attacked, I think weíre vulnerable today more so than we were right after 9/11.
A: Well, yes, I think they should, in a sense. Iím opposed to a draft, but I think if youíre going to have registration, it ought to be across lines so you donít just ask one gender to have the responsibility. So in my view that would be the fair thing to do. Iím an advocate of universal nation service, not by mandating it, but one of the things Iím missing in our country is the shared experience.
A: I served with the National Guard and Reserves. My brother served in the military as well. So, in my family, there have been at least two that Iím aware of. I have first cousins of mine that were submarine commanders. My uncle was a commander in World War II in the Navy. So there have been a number of people in my family.
A: Itís a myth in the sense when you consider what this administration has done over six years, given the attacks we faced on 9/11. Our first responders are not getting the support they deserve, the administration has been resistant in supporting them; the war in Iraq, rather than dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan where our efforts should have been over the last number of years Stateless terrorism is a multinational problem. It requires a multinational response. This administration has walked away from that. The very institutions we need to build to have us effectively engage and fight back against terrorism, this administration seems to take the other track and move in another direction. We need to have leadership that knows how to build relationships to encourage that kind of participation. This administrationís done just the opposite.
A: Well, certainly, Gates is new on the job, , but this is not new. Thatís the unfortunate part. The news stories are a couple of weeks old, but these reports were coming out over a year ago. In fact, some of us offered some proposals a year ago to increase funding to deal exactly with these issues how our veterans were being treated at Walter Reed and other facilities. So the word ďdisgracefulĒ hardly describes or seems adequate in describing this. So I applaud the secretary of defenseís sense of outrage here. And moving personnel around is fine. Thatís symbolic. But weíve got to do more than that. These people deserve a lot better.
A: You donít have to necessarily raise the taxes, just some different priorities. Weíre spending $2 billion a week in Iraq. Frankly, by redeploying those forces soon, not doing what weíre doing today here, a lot of those resources could be used to deal exactly with these veterans. You donít have to raise taxes to do that. You have to re-order our priorities.
Q: The Congress, led by the Democrats, took $3 billion out of the budget that was designated for the facilities for returning troops from Iraq and spent that money on domestic projects.
A: Thatís because the Republicans who controlled the last Congress didnít get a budget done, including the amendment that I offered for $20 billion, to deal exactly with this issue, which were rejected by the Republican majority.
Sen. CORNYN. The problem I have with this bill is that the US Treasury is not bottomless, and the funding that is being provided to create this new pension would literally be at the expense of US veterans. The $221 million that is addressed by Sen. Burr's amendment would actually go back in to supplement benefits for US veterans. And while we appreciate and honor all of our allies who fought alongside of us in WWII, certainly that doesn't mean we are going to grant pension benefits to all of our allies, [like] the British or the Australians. Vote for the Burr Amendment because certainly our American veterans should be our priority.
[The PAA allows] acquiring all the calls and e-mails between employees of a US company and a foreign company, with no requirement to get a warrant and no requirement that there be some link to terrorism. So any American who works at a company that does business overseas should think about that.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. BOND: The purpose of this bill is, and always has been, to enable the intelligence community to act to target foreign terrorists and spies overseas.
The amendment, as it is drafted, will have a totally unexpected impact. It is difficult to explain, in an unclassified session, why this amendment is unworkable. There are only certain communications which the intelligence community is lawfully permitted to acquire, and which it has any desire to acquire, because to acquire all the communications from all foreigners is an absolutely impossible task.
I cannot describe in a public setting how they go about ascertaining which collections are important. But to say that if Osama bin Laden calls somebody in the US, we cannot listen in to that communication, unless we have an independent means of verifying it has some impact or a terrorist threat--That is the most important communication we need to intercept.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment Rejected, 38-57
A modified version, S.2011, failed; it called for amending FISA to provide that a court order is not required for the electronic surveillance of communication between foreign persons who are not located within the US for collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. LEVIN: Both bills cure the problem that exists: Our intelligence agencies must obtain a court order to monitor the communications of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities who are physically located in foreign countries. Now, what are the major differences? Our bill (S2011) is limited to foreign targets limited overseas, unlike the Bond bill (S1927), which does not have that key limitation and which very clearly applies to US citizens overseas. Our bill does not. Now, if there is an incidental access to US citizens, we obviously will permit that. But the Bond bill goes beyond that, citing "any person." It does not say a "foreign person." We avoid getting to the communications of Americans. There you have to go for a warrant.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LIEBERMAN: I will vote for the Bond proposal (S1927) because we are at war, & there is increased terrorist activity. We have a crisis. This proposal will allow us to gather intelligence information on that enemy we otherwise would not gather. This is not the time for striving for legislative perfection. Let us not strive for perfection. Let us put national security first. We are going to have 6 months to reason together to find something better.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HAGEL: The war in Iraq has pushed the US Army to the breaking point. When we deploy our military, we have an obligation to ensure that our troops are rested, ready, prepared, fully trained, and fully equipped. Today's Armed Forces are being deployed repeatedly for increasing periods of time. This is quickly wearing down the troops and their families, impacting the mental and physical health of our troops. Further, these deployments are affecting the recruiting and retention rates of the military. For example, the Army reached only a little over 80% of its recruiting goal for June. This is the second month in a row that the Army has failed to recruit the number of new soldiers needed to fill the ranks. And this is with $1 billion in large cash bonus incentives.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. KYL: Time in theater and dwell times should be a goal, rather than an absolute fixed requirement that becomes the policy of the US military determined by congressional action. By mandating a certain policy for deployment time or dwell time, the Congress is engaged in the most explicit micromanaging of what is obviously a function for the Commander in Chief and military commanders to perform. This is not something Members of Congress are knowledgeable about or would have the ability to dictate in any responsible fashion. It also would be unconstitutional. Clearly, the dwell times of troops or the amount of time in theater is an obligation of the Commander in Chief, not something for the Congress to determine.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
One of the authors of the 9/11 Commission report said, the President's announced strategy should be given a chance to succeed. That is what I think we should do, give this plan a chance to succeed. Our troops in theater, our commanders, and the Iraqi leaders all believe they can see early signs of success in this program, even though it has just begun, and they are cautiously optimistic that it can succeed. I think it would be unconscionable for the Congress, seeing the beginnings of success here, to then act in any way that would pull the rug out from under our troops and make it impossible for them to achieve their mission.
Sen. GRAHAM [recommending NO]: The fundamental question for the Senate to answer when it comes to determining enemy combatant status is, Who should make that determination? Should that be a military decision or should it be a judicial decision? That is something our military should do.
Sen. SPECTER [recommending YES]: My amendment would retain the constitutional right of habeas corpus for people detained at Guantanamo. The right of habeas corpus was established in the Magna Carta in 1215 when, in England, there was action taken against King John to establish a procedure to prevent illegal detention. What the bill seeks to do is to set back basic rights by some 900 years. This amendment would strike that provision and make certain that the constitutional right of habeas corpus is maintained.
GRAHAM: Do we really want enemy prisoners to bring every lawsuit known to man against the people fighting the war and protecting us? No enemy prisoner should have access to Federal courts--a noncitizen, enemy combatant terrorist--to bring a lawsuit against those fighting on our behalf. No judge should have the ability to make a decision that has been historically reserved to the military. That does not make us safer.
SPECTER: The US Constitution states that "Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." We do not have either rebellion or invasion, so it is a little hard for me to see, as a basic principle of constitutional law, how the Congress can suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
GRAHAM: If the Supreme Court does say in the next round of legal appeals there is a constitutional right to habeas corpus by those detained at Guantanamo Bay, then Sen. Specter is absolutely right.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
I question the need for a very lengthy, detailed report every 3 months. We will probably see those reports leaked to the press.
This amendment would spread out for the world--and especially for al-Qaida and its related organizations--precisely what interrogation techniques are going to be used.
If we lay out, in an unclassified version, a description of the techniques by the Attorney General, that description will be in al-Qaida and Hezbollah and all of the other terrorist organizations' playbook. They will train their assets that: This is what you must be expected to do, and Allah wants you to resist these techniques.
We are passing this bill so that we can detain people. If we catch someone like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, we have no way to hold him, no way to ask him the questions and get the information we need, because the uncertainty has brought the program to a close. It is vitally important to our security, and unfortunately this amendment would imperil it.
A bill to clarify that individuals who receive FISA orders can challenge nondisclosure requirements, that individuals who receive national security letters are not required to disclose the name of their attorney, that libraries are not wire or electronic communication service providers unless they provide specific services, and for other purposes.
Expresses the sense of the Senate that: (1) small business participation is vital to U.S. defense and should play an active role in assisting the military, Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and State and local police to combat terrorism through the design and development of innovative products; and (2) Federal, State, and local governments should aggressively seek out and purchase innovative technologies and services from, and promote research opportunities for, American small businesses to help in homeland defense and the fight against terrorism. Passed/agreed to in Senate.
Peace Action, the merger of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and The Freeze, has effectively mobilized for peace and disarmament for over forty years. As the nation's largest grassroots peace group we get results: from the 1963 treaty to ban above ground nuclear testing, to the 1996 signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, from ending the war in Vietnam, to blocking weapons sales to human rights abusing countries. We are proof that ordinary people can change the world. At Peace Action we believe...
The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: Since the start of both the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war, expenditures for those war have been voted for in "emergency supplemental spending bills," instead of in the normal defense spending bill. That implies that the expenditures are unexpectedly high, which may have been true in the early years of the war. This amendment requires regular budgeting for the Afghanistan & Iraq wars.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require regular budgeting for ongoing military operations.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote, 98-0, Vote Number: 170.
A bill to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Sen. SPECTER. "I introduce this legislation, denominated the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. Last year, in the Military Commissions Act, the constitutional right of habeas corpus was attempted to be abrogated. I say "attempted to be abrogated" because, in my legal judgment, that provision in the Act is unconstitutional.
"It is hard to see how there can be legislation to eliminate the constitutional right to habeas corpus when the Constitution is explicit that habeas corpus may not be suspended except in time of invasion or rebellion, and we do not have either of those circumstances present, as was conceded by the advocates of the legislation last year to take away the right of habeas corpus.
"We have had Supreme Court decisions which have made it plain that habeas corpus is available to non-citizens and that habeas corpus applies to territory controlled by the US, specifically, including Guantanamo. More recently, however, we had a decision in the US District Court applying the habeas corpus jurisdiction stripping provision of the Military Commissions Act, but I believe we will see the appellate courts strike down this legislative provision.
"The New York Times had an extensive article on this subject, starting on the front page, last Sunday, and continuing on a full page on the back page about what is happening at Guantanamo. It is hard to see how in America, or in a jurisdiction controlled by the United States, these proceedings could substitute for even rudimentary due process of law."
|Other candidates on Homeland Security:||Chris Dodd on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader