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Fred Thompson on Homeland Security

Former Republican Senator (TN)


Intelligence and parts of our military were neglected

We have a real problem with our intelligence community. It, along with certain parts of our military, were neglected for a long time, and we’re paying the price for it now. Nobody has any real confidence in the result that they’re getting. The result was directly contradicted by their strong beliefs just two years ago. So you’ve got to rebuild from the bottom up. In the meantime, we have to rely on other people. The British are helpful to us. The Israelis sometimes are helpful to us.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate Dec 12, 2007

Waterboarding ok if national security were at stake

Q: You were quoted saying: “Thompson noted the US does not support torture, then indicated he would not be opposed to waterboarding if national security were at stake. ‘As a general proposition, the measures have to meet the situation.’”

Q: Now there, I was quoted exactly right.

Q: You would use torture if you thought it would get the information?

A: I never used the word torture. The measures must meet the circumstances. And I’m not sure what it would take. We’re having a big public debate now on a technique which I know very little about. It sounds very gruesome to me. But the president has an obligation to do what I just said, and I can’t imagine anybody being president who wouldn’t make that decision.

Q: So you would use techniques that you felt necessary?

A: Yes.

Q: And pay the consequences for using those if, in fact, they turned out to be torture?

A: I would answer to whatever decision that I made. And I would do what was necessary to protect those who carried out my orders.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Nov 4, 2007

Supports pre-emption policy to prevent nuclear proliferation

Q: Back in June, here was the question:
Q: If it’s clear that Iran is getting close to getting a nuclear weapon, would it be your policy to support pre-emption as a means of taking out or wiping out those facilities?

A: Yes, yes.

Q: It would be?

A: Yes.

Q: So you would be in favor [still]?

A: Sounds a little eager there, doesn’t it?

Q: Well, my question: Do you believe the US should, in fact, be prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran to eliminate their nuclear capability?

A: Yes, we should be prepared to do that. I think in many respects it would be a sign of the failure of other policies. I don’t think that that’s something that we should have to do. We’re not doing enough, I don’t believe, to help [the people in Iran who are dissatisfied with the government], to communicate with them, to give them the means of communication to rhetorically say the things that I think we need to say, to give them moral support.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Nov 4, 2007

We face a global war declared on us by Islamic fascism

I think we’ve got to come to terms with the nature of the threat that our country faces. It is a global war. Islamic fascism has declared it upon us. They look at it as something that’s something that’s been going on for a long, long time. They’re perfectly willing for it to go on for a long time more, killing millions of innocent people in the process. They play by no rules, and they are intent on bringing down Western civilization and the United States of America. So we have to understand what’s necessary & the determination that we need to show to friend and foe alike that we’ll do what’s necessary to fight on any front that we have to fight on. This is a front in a much broader war, & I think the young people that I talk to coming back from there understand that. In fact, sometimes it’s strange to me to think that the average 20-year-old serving in Iraq knows more about what it takes for our national security than the average 20-year veteran on Capitol Hill.
Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan Oct 9, 2007

Spend more than current 4% of budget on military

I think we need to tell the American people the truth, that our security is on the line. We’re going to have to do some things differently. We’re probably going to have to spend more than 4% of our budget, as we’re spending right now, on our military. We are bankrupting the next generation and those yet to be born.
Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan Oct 9, 2007

Iraq & Afghanistan are central front of global war on terror

Today we face the urgent threat of radical Islamic terrorists. Al Qaeda is committed to attacking us here at home, and wants to use WMD to kill millions. We must never give them that opportunity. We must defeat the terrorists abroad, and that begins in Iraq and Afghanistan--the central fronts in this global war. We must show the world we have the will to fight and win. A weakened America--or an America that appears weaker--will only encourage further attacks. We must persevere.
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

Build larger, more capable, and more modern military

The first responsibility of government is to protect the American people, the homeland, and our way of life. The president must ensure the US has the means to achieve victory. Presidential leadership requires talking to the American people about these stakes, mapping out a clear vision for success, and devising a comprehensive strategy for achieving it. I am committed to a larger, more capable, and more modern military that can defeat terrorists, deter adversaries, and defend the US and our interests.
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

Supports missile defense system & enhanced intelligence

Presidential leadership requires talking to the American people about these stakes, mapping out a clear vision for success, and devising a comprehensive strategy for achieving it. I am committed to:
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

Congress was at its best in year after 9/11: alert & focused

In the year after 9/11, I saw the Congress at its best--alert to danger & focused on duty. We need to recover that clarity & conviction in matters of national security. The threat of catastrophic violence in America is real & the terrorists aren’t going away of their own accord. We must deploy every resource including diplomacy, intelligence, & economic power to defend this nation & our national interests. If I am Commander in Chief, this country will never be left to the mercy of terror regimes.
Source: Candidacy announcement speech Sep 6, 2007

Al Qaeda intends to put a mushroom cloud over a US city

Al Qaeda is already here, they’re intent, patient, and intend to put a mushroom cloud over an American city no matter how long it takes. That’s the kind of world we’re going to wake up to after Iraq is way in our rear view mirror. We’re going to find China & Russia both with military build ups. We’re going to see a China with hundreds of missiles pointed towards Taiwan, a country we pledge to defend. We’re seeing both of those countries playing dangerous, aggressive international energy politics all over the world. In turn we see our Allies & NATO spending less and less on their own militaries to even defend themselves.

So I ask you, even though we won’t be going around in the woods trying to find any bears to kill, sometimes the bear visits you whether you’re looking for it or not. And when that time comes, and hopefully civilization will realize they’re fighting the forces of destruction and darkness. Who is going to stand firm and stand strong and stand united, if it’s not the USA?

Source: Address at the Lincoln Club 45th Annual Dinner Aug 3, 2007

Enemies do not doubt our strength, but our determination

I have great hope for such a new understanding among NATO allies. We would never want to look back on a campaign we’d undertaken to realize we’d fallen short for lack of commitment or material support. Today our enemies do not doubt our military strength. They do question our determination. Our efforts will require ongoing dialogue based upon mutual respect and mutual interests.
Source: Foreign policy speech at the Policy Exchange in London Jun 19, 2007

Western world is in international struggle with jihadists

Many in Europe simply have a different view from that of the United States as to the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism. They think that the threat is overblown. That despite September 11th and other attacks in Europe and elsewhere, America is the main target and therefore the problem is basically an American one. The fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq at a particular point in time resolves the matter for them. Also, they see no meaningful connection between terrorist groups and countries like Iran.

Admittedly, even some in America think that the threat is overblown, and that if we had not gone into Iraq, we’d have no terrorism problem. However, most Americans feel differently. We understand that the Western world is in an international struggle with jihadists who see this struggle as part of a conflict that has gone on for centuries, and who won’t give up until Western countries are brought to their knees. I agree with this view.

Source: Foreign policy speech at the Policy Exchange in London Jun 19, 2007

The day after Iraq: They have 100-year plan; we need one too

We ought to be thinking about the day after Iraq. We have a threat out there like we’ve never faced before. This has been something that’s been going on for a few hundred years, and our enemies have another 100-year plan. We have a plan basically to get us through the next election.

And we’ve got a military that’s still in the works, as far as transformation is concerned, to deal with that kind of a threat. We’re spending much less than we need to, to face that threat.

Source: Fox News “Hannity & Colmes” interview Jun 6, 2007

Europe mothballs its fleet, when all should build military

Two months ago, Britain’s government announced plans to mothball almost half its naval fleet due to defense-budget cuts. Much of its existing navy is already so degraded; it would take over a year to get into action. According to the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, senior naval officers say that the cuts “will turn Britain’s once-proud Navy into nothing more than a coastal defense force.”

In fact, the British naval forces have been so neglected; the U.K. probably couldn’t pull off the Falkland Islands mission today. The world’s fifth-largest economy now supports an army that ranks 28th in size. What are they thinking?

The 9/11 attacks should have been a wake-up call to our allies -- but they seem to have had a tranquilizing effect instead. The percentage of many European countries’ economies spent on defense was reduced over ten percent by 2005. Many are still falling. This is not the time for the free world to neglect its own defense.

Source: Thompson’s blog on ABCradio.com, “Mothballing the Fleet” Apr 13, 2007

Habeas corpus does not apply at Guantanamo; so keep it open

THOMPSON: [To Huckabee]: I disagree with my friend Mike on closing down Guantanamo because people will think better of us, and bringing those people here to give them rights that they don’t have there.

HUCKABEE: I felt we should keep Guantanamo open until the court case had come down indicating that there was no real substantive difference in whether they were in Guantanamo or Leavenworth. I don’t think where we keep these people is as important as it is that we keep them and we don’t let them go.

HUCKABEE: The courts are in a case right now to decide whether or not that that’s going to be held. Whether in Leavenworth as Guantanamo, it shouldn’t matter where they are geographically.

THOMPSON: That’s not the situation. It would be different if they were in Guantanamo vs. Leavenworth.

Source: 2008 Fox News NH Republican primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Pre-emptive war has got to be an option

Q: Do you believe in the Bush doctrine? In 2002, the president said we have a right to a pre-emptive attack, that we can attack if this country feels threatened.

A: Preemption didn’t just appear one day as a good idea. During the Cold War, we had one big enemy & one big weapon against us. We now have multiple enemies. We now have terrorists & terrorist groups, Al Qaida, rogue nations in different stages of developing nuclear weapons. We must be prepared for the different kind of weaponry that we’re facing. We could be attacked with a biological weapon and not even know it for a long period of time. This is a different world. So, instead of mutual assured destruction, which we lived under for a long time, it’s now a world where preemption has got to be an option under the right circumstances.

Q: So you would keep the Bush policy?

A: Things that happen on the other side of the world sometimes can affect us, such as perhaps Pakistan. We should only go in where we should & where we’re able to.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Oppose windfall profits tax on oil companies

Windfall profits tax? No. No. The oil price basically is a function or a result of supply and demand. We can throw rocks at each other, and we can demagogue the issue and all that. There’s plenty of it. The Chinese are demanding more oil, going around the world and making all kinds of deals with dictators and causing all kinds of other problems because of it. India. There are a lot of growing economies out there. That’s the world we live in for the immediate future. We’re not going to be energy independent in a few years. We have to be more diversified. We’re getting too much oil from trouble spots in the world. We’re just too dependent on the wrong kinds of people. We need cleaner coal technology, plus using the oil reserves that we have here and more nuclear. We’re not a nation that regulates the profits or the losses of our economy. We want people refining that oil and there hasn’t been a refinery built here in a long time in this country.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

FEMA faces systemic and long-standing management problems

The Federal Emergency Management Agency faces a number of systemic and long-standing management problems. On December 1, 2000, the Inspector General provided Chairman Thompson with an assessment of the most serious management challenges facing the agency. The most serious challenges identified are listed below and discussed in the following sections: In addition to these systemic problems, other studies have identified cases of either criminal or inappropriate behavior on the part of individuals.
Source: Government at the Brink, by Fred Thompson, Vol.2, p. 40 Jun 3, 2001

DoD cannot account for where spending goes

Most Americans balance their checkbooks on a regular basis--they know how much money is coming in, how much money is going out, and where that money is going. This is not true of the federal government. In 1999, the Department of Defense made about 15 million individual purchases totaling about $140 billion in goods and services. This means that the officials at DOD are making more than 57,000 purchases a day! Unfortunately, these same officials can’t tell us what they bought or whether they even needed what they got. When you’re talking about such a large organization and so much money, it’s hard to grasp the breadth of the problem. But in example after example, DOD’s poor financial management has resulted in spectacular waste. Federal agencies have a big problem with overpayments, which often result when agencies lack good information about their debts and their debtors. The fact is, no private sector firm could stay in business if it had the same financial problems as the federal government.
Source: Government at the Brink, by Fred Thompson, Vol.1, p. 24-27 Jun 3, 2001

Voted NO on adopting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would ban nuclear weapons testing six months after ratification by the 44 nations that have nuclear power plants or nucelar research reactors.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Rejected Y)48; N)51; P)1
Reference: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; Bill Treaty Document #105-28 ; vote number 1999-325 on Oct 13, 1999

Voted YES on allowing another round of military base closures.

Vote on an amendment to allow one round of military base closures beginning in 2001 as determined by an independent panel.
Reference: Bill S.1059 ; vote number 1999-147 on May 26, 1999

Voted YES on cutting nuclear weapons below START levels.

The Kerrey (D-NE) amdt would strike bill language requiring that U.S. strategic nuclear forces remain at START I levels through the end of fiscal 2000 unless Russia ratified START II.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)56; N)44
Reference: Motion to table Kerrey Amdt #395; Bill S. 1059 ; vote number 1999-149 on May 26, 1999

Voted YES on deploying National Missile Defense ASAP.

Vote that the policy of the US is to deploy a National Missile Defense system capable of defending against limited ballistic missile attack as soon as it is technologically possible, and to seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces.
Reference: Bill S 257 ; vote number 1999-51 on Mar 17, 1999

Voted YES on military pay raise of 4.8%.

Vote to pass a bill to authorize a military pay raise of 4.8% in 2000 and annual pay increases through 2006 of 0.5% above the inflation rate. The bill would also provide additional incentives to certain enlisted personnel who remain on active duty.
Reference: Bill S.4 ; vote number 1999-26 on Feb 24, 1999

Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex basic training.

Byrd Amdt (D-WV) that would prohibit same-sex military barracks and basic training.
Status: Amdt Rejected Y)39; N)53; NV)8
Reference: Byrd Amdt #3011; Bill S. 2057 ; vote number 1998-180 on Jun 25, 1998

Voted YES on favoring 36 vetoed military projects.

Overturning line-item vetoes of 36 military projects vetoed by President Clinton.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)30; NV)1
Reference: Line Item Veto Cancellation bill; Bill S. 1292 ; vote number 1997-287 on Oct 30, 1997

Voted NO on banning chemical weapons.

Approval of the chemical weapons ban.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Agreed to Y)74; N)26
Reference: Resolution of ratification of the Chemical (Comprehensive) Weapons (Convention) Ban; Bill S. Res. 75 ; vote number 1997-51 on Apr 24, 1997

Voted YES on considering deploying NMD, and amending ABM Treaty.

Vote to consider establishing a policy requiring the deployment of a national missile defense system by the end of 2003. The bill would also urge discussions with Russia to amend the ABM Treaty to allow deployment of the system.
Reference: Bill S 1635 ; vote number 1996-157 on Jun 4, 1996

Voted YES on 1996 Defense Appropriations.

Approval of the 1996 Defense Appropriations bill.
Status: Bill Passed Y)62; N)35; NV)3
Reference: Defense Approps Bill FY 96; Bill S. 1087 ; vote number 1995-397 on Sep 5, 1995

Other candidates on Homeland Security: Fred Thompson on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
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
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010