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John Kerry on Homeland Security

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President

Constitution is core value for our national security

The true pessimists are those who do not understand that fidelity to our principles is critical to our national security, and it is as critical to our national security as our military power itself. And I have to tell you, the most dangerous and the most dispiriting pessimists are those who again and again and again resort to using 9/11 to argue that our traditional values are a luxury we can no longer afford. We say, “No! America’s Constitution comes first!”
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference Jun 14, 2006

Need the best intelligence and cooperation to make us safe

Q: Why do you think that there have been no further terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11? If elected, what will you do to assure our safety?

A: The Bush administration has told you and all of us it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Between the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 or so, and the next time was 5 or 7 years. They people wait. They’ll plan. They plot. I agree with Bush that we have to go after them and get them wherever they are. I just think I can do that far more effectively, because the most important weapon in doing that is intelligence. You got to have the best intelligence in the world. In order to have the best intelligence in the world to know who the terrorists are and where they are and what they’re plotting, you’ve got to have the best cooperation you’ve ever had in the world. We’re not getting the best cooperation in the world today. We got a whole bunch of countries that pay a price for dealing with the US now. I’m going to change that.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Our container ports, bridges, & plants are not secure

KERRY: 95% of our containers coming into this country are not inspected today. When you get on an airplane, your bag is x-rayed but the cargo hold isn’t x-rayed. Bush chose a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans over getting that equipment out into the homeland as fast as possible. We have bridges and tunnels that aren’t being secured. Chemical plants, nuclear plants that aren’t secured. Hospitals that are overcrowded with their emergency rooms. If we had a disaster today, could they handle it?

BUSH: We’ve tripled the homeland security budget from $10 to $30 billion. We’ll do everything we can to protect the homeland. We need good intelligence. Right after 1993 he voted to cut the intelligence budget by $7.5 billion.

KERRY: Pres. Bush just said to you that we’ve added money. The test is not if you’ve added money. The test is have you done everything possible to make America secure. He chose a tax cut for wealthy Americans over the things that I listed to you.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Isolate the radical Muslims, not have them isolate the US

I have a better plan to be able to fight the war on terror by strengthening our military and our intelligence, by going after the financing more authoritatively, by doing what we need to do to rebuild the alliances, by reaching out to the Muslim world, which Bush has almost not done, and beginning to isolate the radical Islamic Muslims, not have them isolate the US. I have a plan to have a summit with all of the allies. We can do a better job of training the Iraqi forces to defend themselves.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Protect loose nuclear materials from the terrorists

Long before Bush and I get a tax cut - and that’s who gets it - long before we do, I’m going to invest in homeland security and I’m going to make sure we’re not cutting COPS programs in America and we’re fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants. The president also unfortunately gave in to the chemical industry, which didn’t want to do some of the things necessary to strengthen our chemical plant exposure. And there’s an enormous undone job to protect the loose nuclear materials in the world that are able to get to terrorists. That’s a whole other subject, but I see we still have a little bit more time. Let me just quickly say, at the current pace, the president will not secure the loose material in the Soviet Union - former Soviet Union for 13 years. I’m going to do it in four years. And we’re going to keep it out of the hands of terrorists.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Double the number of special forces

KERRY: I intend to double the number of special forces so that we can do the job we need to do with respect fighting the terrorists around the world. And if we do that, then we have the ability to be able to respond more rapidly. If it took American forces to some degree to coalesce the African Union, I’d be prepared to do it because we could never allow another Rwanda.

BUSH: I agree with Kerry that we shouldn’t be committing troops. We ought to be working with the African Union to do so-precisely what we did in Liberia. We helped stabilize the situation with some troops, and when the African Union came, we moved them out. My hope is that the African Union moves rapidly to help save lives. And fortunately the rainy season will be ending shortly, which will make it easier to get aid there and help the long-suffering people there.

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Build the strongest network to prevent nuclear proliferation

KERRY: Right now Bush is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn’t make sense. You talk about mixed messages. We’re telling other people, “You can’t have nuclear weapons,” but we’re pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using. We’re going to get the job of containing all of that nuclear material in Russia done in four years. And we’re going to build the strongest international network to prevent nuclear proliferation.

BUSH: We’ve decreased funding for dealing with nuclear proliferation about 35% since I’ve been the president. The biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network. And that’s why proliferation is one of the centerpieces of a multi-prong strategy to make the country safer. Over 60 nations involved with disrupting the trans-shipment of information and/or weapons of mass destruction materials.

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Expand active duty and Army’s forces to security peace

We will expand America’s active duty forces by 40,000; double the Army’s Special Forces capability within 4 years, while adding a special operations helicopter squadron to the Air Force; increase by 50 percent the number of civil affairs troops trained in the special responsibilities of reconstruction; increase our military police, because order is critical to establishing the conditions that allow peace to take hold; and add 500 “psychological operations” personnel and augment their language training.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 19 Aug 10, 2004

Offer a military modernization plan for the troops

We offer a military modernization plan that will create more fully modernized “digital divisions,” equipped with the latest communications technology crucial to future military success; create new “anti-proliferation” units trained and equipped to find and destroy nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and to secure the facilities that produce them; and provide full support for education and training for our troops, including on how to deal effectively with culturally diverse civilian populations.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 19 Aug 10, 2004

Ensure Americans in uniform receive benefits they deserve

We will enact a Military Family Bill of Rights that includes a commitment to full, mandatory funding of veterans’ health care; a commitment to competitive pay for service members, including special compensations for those in combat zones; up-to-date and accurate notice to military families about deployments and rotations that send troops away from home or back home; financial help for families affected by extended deployments; a guarantee of adequate housing for military families, beginning with the accelerated construction by private developers of new housing on or near military bases; full access for all military personnel, whether active duty, National Guard, or Reserves, to TRICARE; full funding for Department of Defense schools serving military families, which Bush has sought to cut; a new $250,000 gratuity for families of service members killed in a combat zone; and doubling the period during which families of service members killed in action can continue to live in military housing.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 21 Aug 10, 2004

Make better use of the National Guard

We need to make better use of what should be a key asset in homeland defense - our National Guard. The National Guard has served in every war, and they are serving now. They were the first ones called on to line city streets, guard bridges, and patrol our airports after September 11th. We will make homeland security one of their primary missions, and assign Guard units to a standing national task force on homeland security commanded by a National Guard general.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 23 Aug 10, 2004

Keep our promises to American veterans

There are countless veterans who fought our wars who are now fighting year after year for the benefits they earned. Bush refuses to fully fund veterans’ health care. While boasting of cutting waitlists for VA health care, the Bush administration has done so by excluding nearly 500,000 veterans from enrolling. Bush has strongly opposed granting our nation’s veterans full disability and retirement pay. We will end the game of playing politics with funding for veterans health care by making it mandatory. We will end the “disabled veterans tax,” under which military retirees who receive both veteran’s pensions and disability compensation must surrender a dollar from their military retirement pay for every dollar they get for military compensation. America deserves a commander-in-chief who will fight for a constant standard of decency and respect for those who serve their country in our armed forces-on active duty and as veterans. It should be no other way and in our administration, it will be no other way
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 22 Aug 10, 2004

Make certain the veterans have benefits

Q: What specific actions would you take to ensure that these soldiers receive the benefits that they deserve?

A: Bush has 135,000 veterans waiting six months to get their first visit with the doctor at the VA. 400,000 veterans have had their cutbacks and their accessibility to the VA altogether. He has made our military weaker by overextending them. Our troops deserve a president who’s going to keep faith with those who wore the uniform.

Source: CNN “Rock The Vote” Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Invest billions to secure loose nukes abroad

After spending trillions of dollars to win the cold war, it was worth spending a few billion dollars a year to make sure that a stricken former Soviet industry for the production of weapons of mass destruction does not become the source to a fire sale for rogue states and terrorists.

Instead the Bush administration tried to slash federal funding for these Nunn-Lugar initiatives the moment it took office, an effort it continued well after 9/11 starkly illustrated the potential costs of letting terrorists get control of weapons of mass destruction. More recently the administration has offered more support for Nunn-Lugar initiatives, but we must match that with broader, multilateral framework for identifying & securing nuclear materials wherever they may be and in whatever quantity. As Nunn and Lugar have long argued, we must help those in possession of deadly materials who lack the financial and technical means to control them to become responsible stewards under international supervision.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 57-8 Oct 1, 2003

Stop terrorism by focusing on banks, computers & weapons

Terrorism is sometimes known as the revenge of the weak, since it is much easier to commit a terrorist act against a foreign enemy than to field an army for a conventional war. One of the greatest dangers of the terrorists is that unlike other criminals, they believe that what they are doing is morally right. They are rebels with a cause.

Those on the lower end of the geopolitical, social, and economic ladders have always had reasons for wanting violent change. What many have lacked was the means to carry out any action to express their rage, and opportune targets. With the end of the superpower struggle, increased attention has fallen on radical Islam.

Today’s terrorist networks are far harder to target, owing to their autonomy, lack of clear strategy, and rapid rate of reproduction. What is necessary to stop them is for states to focus on monitoring banks, computer networks, and weapons trafficking as essential components of detecting terrorist networks as they emerge.

Source: The New War, by John Kerry, p.113-114 Jun 1, 1998

Supported a federal crime bill that funded 100,000 cops

[In a Senate vote for a crime bill that funded 100,000 cops] I have put more cops on the street in the past two years than Bill Weld has in the past five.
Source: Debate is first Kerry/Weld duel, Apr 10, 1996

Need to be smarter about how we wage a war on terror efforts

KERRY: A fresh start, new credibility, a president who can understand what we have to do to reach out to the Muslim world to make it clear that this is not, you know - Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq in order to go out to people and say that America has declared war on Islam. We need to be smarter about now we wage a war on terror. We need to deny them the recruits. We need to deny them the safe havens. We need to rebuild our alliances.

BUSH: Kerry said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn’t going to determine how we defend ourselves. I decided the right action was in Iraq. He said I misled on Iraq. I don’t think he was misleading when he called Iraq a grave threat in the fall of 2002. I don’t think he was misleading when he said that it was right to disarm Iraq in the spring of 2003.What is misleading is to say you can lead and succeed in Iraq if you keep changing your positions on this war. And he has.

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Automatic citizenship to immigrants who serves in army

We have about 37,000 people served in the armed forces of the United States who are legal residents. They should automatically become American citizens for having served their country in that way.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

John Kerry on Anti-terrorism

Cast a global net for terrorists

Al Qaeda alone is known to operate in more than 60 countries. We need the cooperation of intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world to cast a global net for terrorists, infiltrate their cells, learn their plans, cut off their funds, and stop them before they can attack. We will strengthen the effectiveness of intelligence and law enforcement efforts around the world by forging stronger international coalitions and enhancing cooperative relationships.
Source: Our Plan For America, p.225 Aug 10, 2004

Improve intelligence capabilities to counter terrorism

We can more effectively prevent another terrorist attack by: restoring the credibility of our intelligence community by ensuring the basic integrity of the intelligence process. We will make certain that our intelligence agencies are protected from political pressures and operate in a culture of diversity of thought, dissent, and forceful challenging of assumptions; strengthening accountability & leadership by creating a true Director of National Intelligence with the authority to manage & direct all of the components of the intelligence community; maximizing coordination and integration by structuring around key threats like terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and hostile countries; transforming our intelligence services to ensure that they have sufficient personnel with the skills, languages, training, & orientation needed to meet today’s threats. We will make sure that the FBI is fully prepared to perform counter-terrorism intelligence operations and strengthen our capabilities overseas.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 13 Aug 10, 2004

Cut off terrorists funds

Terrorists need money to operate. We will: impose tough financial sanctions against nations or banks that engage in money laundering or fail to act against it; launch a “name and shame” campaign against those financing terror, and shut out of the US financial system those nations that fail to respond, end Bush’s kid-glove approach to the supply & laundering of terrorist money in Saudi Arabia, and demand Riyadh shut down Saudi-based “charities” that help finance al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 14 Aug 10, 2004

Prevent Afghanistan & others from becoming terrorist havens

Our drive to topple the Taliban regime convincingly demonstrated the courage and skill of our troops, the value of powerful new technologies, and the particular importance of Special Forces units in defeating unconventional enemies. Unfortunately, we have not followed with a plan or the commitment to win the peace. Bush has all but turned away from Afghanistan, allowing it to become a forgotten front in the war on terror and once again a potential breeding ground for terrorists.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 15 Aug 10, 2004

Add 40,000 troops and double anti-terrorism special forces

I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift & certain response. I will never give any nation or institution a veto over our national security. We need a stronger American military. We will add 40,000 active duty troops to strengthen American forces now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our anti-terrorism special forces. We will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives - and win the battle.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Will lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation

We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared. We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation - to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world. We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn’t belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Quickly implement the recommendations of the 9-11 commission

The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. As President, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn’t be letting 95% of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn’t be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn’t be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in America.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Four new imperatives: alliances, modernize, end Mideast oil

It’s time for a new national security policy guided by four new imperatives: First, we must launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post 9-11 world. Second, we must modernize the world’s most powerful military to meet the new threats. Third, in addition to our military might, we must deploy all that is in America’s arsenal -- our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas. Fourth and finally, to secure our full independence and freedom, we must free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil.

These four imperatives are a response to an inescapable reality: War has changed; the enemy is different - and we must think and act anew.

Today, we are waging a global war against a terrorist movement committed to our destruction. Terrorists like al Qaeda are unlike any adversary our nation has faced. We do not know for certain how they are organized or how many operatives they have. But we know the destruction they can inflict.

Source: Speech on Iraq and foreign policy, Seattle WA May 27, 2004

Increase military by 40,000 troops-but no draft

Q: You said that in your first 100 days you would move to increase our armed forces by as much as 40,000 troops. You said there was a dire need for two full divisions. People are wondering right now about voluntary versus draft.

KERRY: We don’t need a draft now and I wouldn’t be in favor of it under the current circumstances. All across this country there are families who are suffering greatly because the Guards and Reserves have been called up. They are overextended. Their deployments are too long. If we’re going to maintain this level of commitment on a global basis, and for the moment we have to because of what’s happened, we need an additional two divisions. One’s a combat division and one is a support division. That’s the responsible thing to do. That’s temporary, because I intend to go back to the UN, rejoin the community of nations, bring other boots on the ground to help us, and reduce the overall need for deployment of American forces in the globe.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Focus more on human intelligence gathering

Q: Do you feel there’s a problem with American intelligence-gathering?

A: Yes, there is a problem. It’s a very serious one. The Bush Administration misled the American people with respect to intelligence related to Iraq. That’s very serious and we need to get to the bottom of the White House intelligence gathering process during the lead-up to the Iraq war. We also need to change how we gather intelligence--to increase the focus on human intelligence gathering.

Source: Concord Monitor / on-line Q&A Nov 7, 2003

The New War: We are no longer safe at home

On the periphery of the world are dangerous and unstable places, places where terrorists, absolutists, neo-Fascists, and gangsters work to undo the twentieth century and impose a new dark age. Though these forces are essentially weak and defensive and far less popular even in their home territories than the American values they oppose, they have repeatedly demonstrated the global reach of their ability to do violence.

The proliferation of international criminal gangs and narco-terrorists in the 1990’s-a subject I wrote about I my 1997 book, The New War, was a warning that we were no longer safe at home from the dark underside of a global society. Any lingering doubt about that reality was dramatically dispelled on 9/11.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 34 Oct 1, 2003

Modernize the Middle East to prevent future terrorism

It isn’t only terrorism we are fighting, it’s also the beliefs that motivate terrorists and the conditions that make those beliefs possible.

There are no full-fledged democracies among the 16 Arab states of the Middle East and North Africa. More than half of Arab women are still illiterate. These countries are among the most economically isolated in the world, with very little trade & investment and little income apart from the oil royalties. With a landscape marked by political oppression, economic stagnation, staggering unemployment, lack of education, poverty, and rapid population growth, is it any wonder these Islamic countries are recruiting grounds for terrorists?

We need more than a one-dimensional war on terror. We must engage in a smarter, more comprehensive, and more farsighted strategy for modernizing the greater Middle East. It’s no more ambitious-and no less necessary-a task than the rebuilding of Europe that we undertook at the end of World War II.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 44-6 Oct 1, 2003

John Kerry on Bush Policy

Military is overextended and there’s a backdoor draft

Our military is overextended under Bush. Our Guard and Reserves have been turned into almost active duty. You’ve got people doing two and three rotations. You’ve got stop-loss policies so people can’t get out when they were supposed to. You’ve got a backdoor draft right now. And a lot of our military are underpaid. These are families that get hurt. It hurts the middle class. It hurts communities, because these are our first responders and they’re called up and they’re over there, not over here. Now, I’m going to add 40,000 active duty forces to the military, and I’m going to make people feel good about being safe in our military and not overextended, because I’m going to run a foreign policy that actually does what President Reagan and President Eisenhower did and others. We’re going to build alliances. We’re not going to go unilaterally. We’re not going alone like this president did.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Bush chose tax cuts for the wealthy over homeland security

BUSH: My administration has tripled the amount of money we’re spending on homeland security to $30 billion a year. My administration worked with the Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security so we could better coordinate our borders & ports. We’ve got 1,000 extra border patrol on the southern border; want 1,000 on the northern border. We’re modernizing our borders. We spent $3.1 billion for fire & police. But the best way to protect this homeland is to stay on the offense.

KERRY: We just read on the front pages of America’s papers that there are over 100,000 hours of tapes from the FBI unlistened to. On one of those tapes may be the enemy being right the next time. And the test is not whether you’re spending more money. The test is, are you doing everything possible to make America safe? We didn’t need that tax cut. America needed to be safe.

BUSH: Of course we’re doing everything we can to protect America. I wake up every day thinking about how best to protect America. That’s my job.

Source: [X-ref Bush] First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Bush is backdoor drafting our National Guards

Ask the people in the armed forces today. We’ve got Guards and Reserves who are doing double duties. We’ve got a backdoor draft taking place in America today: people with stop-loss programs where they’re told you can’t get out of the military; nine out o our 10 active duty divisions committed to Iraq one way or the other, either going, coming or preparing. Bush has overextended the US. In my plan, I add two active duty divisions to the US Army, not for Iraq, but for our general demands across the globe.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Bush has cut funding to stop nuclear proliferation

Nuclear proliferation is the single most serious threat to the national security to the US. There’s some 600-plus tons of unsecured material still in the former Soviet Union and Russia. At the rate that Bush is currently securing it, it’ll take 13 years to get it. I did a lot of work on this. I wrote a book about it several years ago, which saw the difficulties of this international criminal network. Back then, we intercepted a suitcase in a Middle Eastern country with nuclear materials in it. And the black market sale price was about $250 million. Now, there are terrorists trying to get their hands on that stuff today. Bush has secured less nuclear material in the last two years since 9/11 than we did in the two years preceding 9/11. We have to do this job. And to do the job, you can’t cut the money for it. Bush actually cut the money for it. You have to put the money into it and the funding and the leadership. Part of that leadership is sending the right message to places like North Korea.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Individual Ready Reserve call-up is used as a backdoor draft

The vast majority of the Army’s active duty combat divisions are committed to Iraq, either currently there, preparing to go, or recently returned. We’ve called up our Guard and Reserves at historic levels. Some have been on the ground in Iraq for as many as 15 months - much longer than was promised. And many of these units are stretched far too thin. Bush’s answer has just been to stretch further. They are effectively using a stop-loss policy and the Individual Ready Reserve call-up as a back-door draft.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 18 Aug 10, 2004

End the backdoor draft of reservists, help is on the way

We will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists. To all who serve in our armed forces today, help is on the way. I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower. There is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and the power of our ideals.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Bush’s foreign policy has not made American safer

Q: A majority of Americans thought that because of the administration policy on Iraq, the chance of a terrorist attack had grown. Do you agree with that?

A: The overall conduct of the Bush administration’s foreign policy - the war included, the management of Afghanistan, the diversion from Afghanistan, away from Al Qaeda, the lack of cooperation with other countries, the lack of adequate attention on homeland security, all together - has not made America as safe as we ought to be given the options available to us in the aftermath of 9/11. There are a whole series of events that have not made America safer.

Source: New York Times, “Bad Iraq Intelligence Cost Lives” Jul 11, 2004

Exaggeration by the Bush administration should be questioned

Q: Do you believe that Cheney berated middle-level people at the intelligence agency to, in effect, shape the intelligence that he wanted?

A: There is a very legitimate question about what the vice president of the US was doing at the CIA. There’s an enormous question about the exaggeration by this administration. But the most important point is the larger issue of how you choose somebody to run and to be president of the US. We deserve leadership that knows how to take a nation to war if you have to

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Bush administration is misleading America in a profound way

Q: Where has the exaggeration been in the threat on terrorism?

A: 45 minutes deployment of WMD, number one. Aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, number two. Nuclear weapons, number three. I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration. The linkage to Al Qaida, number four. They are really misleading all of America in a profound way. This administration’s arrogant and ideological policy is taking America down a more dangerous path.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Bush misused the authority Congress gave him

Q: Was Dean wrong to oppose the war?

A: Certainly not in its current status. But he has had it both ways. On October 6th, five days before we voted in the Senate, Governor Dean took a public position supporting the Biden-Lugar resolution, which gave authority to the president of the United States to go to war if he found that the diplomatic effort had been exhausted and all he had to do was write a letter. We voted to do it the right way. This president chose to do it the wrong way.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Color-coded warning system needs to be changed

Q: Do you support the government’s threat warning system?

A: No, I would change it. I think a lot of Americans are desperately trying to figure out what the codes mean, what the colors mean. They’re kind of struggling to figure out what it means. I think Americans deserve something better. This president is actually playing to the culture of fear in our country. The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement operation.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Focus on first responders instead of duct tape

The Bush administration denied for a very long time after 9/11 that there was any homeland security challenge at all, beyond the counterterrorism efforts already being performed by the FBI at home and the CIA overseas. Then the administration reversed course and embraced a Democratic proposal to create a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. Yet what Bush has offered is little more than a huge new bureaucracy and a run on duct tape. Funding for homeland security’s first responders- firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement-was first delayed, then drawn from other law-enforcement funding.

I’ve proposed a First Defenders Initiative to help both firefighters and police staff up against crime and terrorism and give homeland security forces the same degree of support we’ve given our armed forces overseas. This initiative includes efforts to bring 21st century technology to the war on terror so that first defenders can communicate and share lifesaving information.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 59-60 Oct 1, 2003

No new generation of nuclear weapons

[Bush has failed] to understand the world today: the problems of North Korea before they’re a crisis, where you need to negotiate; Africa and AIDS before it’s a crisis, not a matter of a political stop; the issue of proliferation. This president wants to build a new generation of nuclear weapons. I don’t want another generation of usable nuclear weapons. And we need the president to say no.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

John Kerry on Voting Record

FactCheck: No, Kerry voted FOR 16 out of 19 defense packages

BUSH_CHENEY CLAIM: “John Kerry has repeatedly opposed weapons vital to winning the war on terror: Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Patriot missiles, B-2 Stealth bombers, F-18 fighter jets and more.”

CNN FACT CHECK:This claim is accurate, although it primarily references his votes on several large spending bills, as opposed to votes on specific programs. It also references old positions that Kerry now disavows. However, throughout his Senate career, Kerry voted to approve 16 of 19 annual Pentagon spending bills, which authorized spending for many of the systems that the Bush-Cheney campaign says Kerry opposed. It is true that Kerry opposed many weapons systems when running for the Senate in 1984, although as a presidential candidate he has said that he should not have taken those positions in 1984. In the Senate, he has voted repeatedly to eliminate the B-2 Stealth bomber program, most recently in 1992.

Source: CNN FactCheck on statements by Bush and Kerry: Oct 29, 2004

Zell: Kerry voted against weapons needed for War on Terror

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our US Armed Forces? US forces armed with what? Spitballs?
Source: Zell Miller’s 2004 Republican Keynote Convention speech Sep 1, 2004

Voted NO on cutting $221M in benefits to Filipinos who served in WWII US Army.

Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. INOUYE. From the Spanish-American War in 1898, until the end of World War II, we exercised jurisdiction over the Philippines like a colonial power. In July 1941, we called upon the Filipinos to volunteer to serve the US under American command, and 470,000 Filipinos volunteered. An Executive Order in 1941 promised Filipinos if they fought for us, they could become citizens of the US and get all of the veterans' benefits. But in 1946, the Congress rescinded the 1941 act. Well, this veterans bill has a provision in it--a provision of honor--in which, finally, after six decades, we will restore our honor and tell the Filipinos: It is late, but please forgive us. Proponents argument for voting YEA:Sen. BURR. This bill is so much more than just a pension for Philippine veterans. It is $332 million in Philippine benefits, of which $221 million is devoted to a new special pension that does not exist [previously. Only that $221M would be cut]. Regardless of the outcome of my amendment, I support final passage of this bill. But we do have a difference as it relates to the pensions. I believe that there was not a promise made. We did not imply it. Those who made the decision on the 1946 Rescissions Act, they looked at the history very well.

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.

Reference: Burr Amendment; Bill S.Amdt. 4572 to S. 1315 ; vote number 2008-111 on Apr 24, 2008

Voted YES on requiring FISA court warrant to monitor US-to-foreign calls.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. FEINGOLD: The Protect America Act (PAA) we passed last year was sold repeatedly as a way to allow the Government to collect foreign-to-foreign communications without needing the approval of the FISA Court. Now, this is something all of us support, every one of us. But the PAA actually went much further. It authorized new sweeping intrusions into the privacy of countless Americans. The bill the Senate is considering to replace the PAA does not do nearly enough to safeguard against Government abuse. So this amendment would provide those safeguards.

[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

Reference: Amendment to Protect America Act; Bill S.Amdt.3913 to S.2248 ; vote number 08-S012 on Feb 7, 2008

Voted YES on limiting soldiers' deployment to 12 months.

Vote on an amendment, SA2032, which amends HR1585, the Defense Authorization bill: To limit the deployment of a unit or individual of the Armed Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom to no more than 12 consecutive months; and to limit Marine Corps deployment to no more than 7 consecutive months; except in time of national emergency.

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.

Reference: Hagel Amendment to Defense Authorization Bill; Bill SA2032 to HR1585 ; vote number 2007-243 on Jul 11, 2007

Voted YES on implementing the 9/11 Commission report.

Vote on passage of a bill to implement unfinished recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) to fight the war on terror more effectively:

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.

Reference: Improving America's Security Act; Bill S. 4 ; vote number 2007-073 on Mar 13, 2007

Voted YES on preserving habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.

Sen. Specter's amendment would strike the provision regarding habeas review. The underlying bill authorizes trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. Excerpts from the Senate floor debate:

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.

Reference: Specter Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.5087 to S.3930 ; vote number 2006-255 on Sep 28, 2006

Voted YES on requiring CIA reports on detainees & interrogation methods.

Amendment to provide for congressional oversight of certain Central Intelligence Agency programs. The underlying bill S. 3930 authorizes trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. The amendment requires quarterly reports describing all CIA detention facilities; the name of each detainee; their suspected activities; & each interrogation technique authorized for use and guidelines on the use of each such technique.

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.

Reference: Rockefeller Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.5095 to S.3930 ; vote number 2006-256 on Sep 28, 2006

Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act.

This vote reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act with some modifications (amendments). Voting YEA extends the PATRIOT Act, and voting NAY would phase it out. The official summary of the bill is:
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.