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Newt Gingrich on Homeland Security

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House


All of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives

I think looking at [terrorism] carefully [we should] extend [the PATRIOT Act] and build an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short run. And we need to be prepared to protect ourselves from those who, if they could, would not just kill us individually, but would take out entire cities.
Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

Every tool possible against terrorists, incluing PATRIOT Act

Q: What to do about alleged terror plots?

A: The key distinction for the American people to recognize is the difference between national security requirements and criminal law requirements. I think it's desperately important that we preserve your right to be innocent until proven guilty, if it's a matter of criminal law. But if you're trying to find somebody who may have a nuclear weapon that they are trying to bring into an American city, I think you want to use every tool that you can possibly use to gather the intelligence. The Patriot Act has clearly been a key part of that.

Q: So you wouldn't change the Patriot Act?

A: No, I would not change it. I'm not aware of any specific change it needs. And I'd look at strengthening it, because I think the dangers are literally that great. You start thinking about one nuclear weapon in one American city and the scale of loss of life and you ask yourself, what should the president be capable of doing to stop that?

Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

It's nonsense to disarm America to balance the budget

GINGRICH: The Congress couldn't figure out how to get the debt ceiling done with a president who shows zero leadership, so they adopt a truly stupid bill [establishing the supercommittee]. And the bill basically says: "We're either going to shoot ourselves in the head, or cut off our right leg. And we'll come in around Thanksgiving, and we'll show you how we're going to cut off the right leg. And the alternative will be shooting ourselves in the head." Let me just say bluntly, all of the spending cuts that are built into the debt ceiling bill--all of them are acts of Congress. They can all be repealed at any moment. It is nonsense to say we're going to disarm the United States unilaterally because we're too stupid to balance the budget any other way. (Applause.)
Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH , Oct 11, 2011

Real danger of Iran getting nukes from Pakistan

Q: [to Santorum] What would happen in the case of a Pakistani coup, with regards to Iran getting Pakistan's nuclear weapons?

SANTORUM: We should be establishing relationships in Pakistan with allies of ours, folks like Pres. Musharraf, so we could work to make sure that that coup could be overturned and make sure those nuclear weapon do not fall in those hands. But working with allies at that point is the last thing we want to do. We want to work in that country to make sure the problem is defused.

GINGRICH: I think people need to understand how real this is. This world is in danger of becoming dramatically more dangerous in the not-too-distant future. People talk about an Iranian weapon? There may be well over 100 nuclear weapons in Pakistan. And the example you used is not too far-fetched to worry about.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

We have enemies that want disasters on an enormous scale

Q: [To Santorum]: In his book, "Fed Up," Gov. Perry says that it was "unprincipled" for Republicans to vote in favor of creating the Department of Homeland Security. You voted yes?

SANTORUM: We created DHS because there was a complete mess in the internal [workings] in protecting our country. We had all sorts of agencies that had conflicting authority; we put together a plan to try to make sure that there was better coordination.

GINGRICH: I helped develop the model for homeland security. It hasn't been executed well. The fact is, we have enemies who want to use weapons against us that will lead to disasters on an enormous scale. And the original goal was to that DHS could help us withstand up to three nuclear events in one morning. There are people out there who want to kill us. And if they have an ability to sneak in weapons of mass destruction, they're going to use them. We need to overhaul and reform the department, but we need some capacity to respond to massive events.

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

Defense as percentage of GDP is lowest since WWII

Q: How do you weigh the cost of fighting the war on terror against the exploding debt crisis?

Gingrich: The exploding debt crisis is because of exploding politician spending in Washington, not because of national security.

Santorum: The first priority of the federal government is to keep America safe. I would not cut defense--freeze it; cut waste; and then plow savings back into Defense.

Johnson: The debt is the greatest threat to national security we face today. Besides, we do not need 60,000 to 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect ourselves. Nor do we need nation-building.

Gingrich: We spend less on defense today as percentage of GDP than at any time since Pearl Harbor.

Santorum: The first priority of the federal government is to keep America safe. I would not cut defense--freeze it; cut waste; and then plow savings back into Defense.

Gingrich: Controlling the border and defending America are job #1 under the Constitution.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

Gitmo lawyers threaten to identify our CIA officers

The Obama administration hired nine lawyers who had previously advocated on behalf of terrorists. These nine lawyers were among the over 400 members of the so-called "Gitmo Bar" who volunteered to represent terrorist detainees at Guantanamo. Most of the terrorists defended by these lawyers were alien enemy combatants challenging their detention, not defendants in a criminal trial, & thus they had no legal right to representation. Nevertheless, the Gitmo Bar volunteered its services to the terrorists.

All these lawyers would undoubtedly deny having sympathy for al Qaeda, but the actions of some of them went far beyond simply challenging a detention policy they thought was unjust. In Aug. 2009, they provided photographs of CIA officers to their clients in an attempt to identify those officers who had interrogated them when they were captured overseas. The lawyers were apparently unconcerned by the potential threat to our CIA officers from being identified by name to al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.

Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 69-70 , May 17, 2010

Enemy combatants not entitled to Miranda rights

Our government traditionally regarded the protection of American lives as its top priority. Our primary concern with captured terrorists (or pirates, the old equivalent of terrorists) was interrogating them and using that information to stop further attacks.

The secular socialists, however, want to give out enemies the same constitutional protections we afford our own citizens, effectively placing the right of terrorists ahead of the lives of Americans. With the Left in charge, when a foreign terrorist tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit, he was read his Miranda rights (which, as a foreign enemy combatant, he was not actually entitled to have). Taxpayers were forces to pay for the terrorist's lawyer, who most likely advised his client not to answer questions except as leverage to get a plea bargain.

Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 3 , May 17, 2010

Post-9/11, it's terrorism vs. civilization

Post 9/11, Newt Gingrich delivered a speech that imagined a variety of horrors and suggested a simple division of humanity that would influence the prosecution of this war: "The next time it will be a germ agent or gas or a nuclear weapon, we must plan for a coercive, not a consensual, campaign. There are only two teams on the planet for this war. There is the team that represents civilization, and there is the team that represents terrorism. Just tell us which. There are no neutrals.
Source: The Test of our Times, by Tom Ridge, p. 63 , Sep 1, 2009

Be prepared in a very militant and aggressive way

We are not developing national security and homeland security at the margins. This is not about stopping two snipers or three car bombers...or 5 airplanes. We live in a world where if we gamble wrong, and the current proposed defense budget is much too small, if we gamble wrong whether it is a major power like China or Russia, a medium sized power like North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, and North Korea is a medium sized power by possession of nuclear weapons. Or it is a fanatic group willing to die in the process of killing us.

We live in a world where there are weapons capable of ending civilization as we know it. And we need to be prepared in a very militant and aggressive way to defend America from having a catastrophic disaster of the first order.

Source: Speech to 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 27, 2009

Gingrich-plus-up: $1B increase in 1990s Pentagon funding

I first began working with the Army Training and Doctrine Command in 1979. Since then I have become the longest-serving teacher in the senior military. In 2003, I was serving on the Defense Policy Board and the Transformation Advisory Group of the Joint Force Command. Beyond the Pentagon I was known in intelligence community as the only person how had insisted on a billion dollar-plus increase in funding in the 1990s (a point the 9-11 Commission made in its report; it called it the "Gingrich plus-up").
Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.108 , Dec 18, 2007

Contain nuclear threats:China, Russia, Pakistan, North Korea

Every day, terrorists try to acquire weapons of mass destruction & weapons of mass murder. Iran & North Korea continue to develop their nuclear and other weapons programs. There is constant danger of a coup by radical Islamists in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

And the greatest danger for us in meeting this threat is the weakness of our intelligence services. We do not have any significant intelligence on the enemy’s plans, networks, & troop strength.

Second, we must contain powers that could threaten us, including China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, & Pakistan--all of which have weapons of mass destruction.

The greatest threat of rogue dictatorships, like Iran or North Korea, is that they will sell weapons of mass destruction. While North Korea--with nuclear, chemical, & biological weapons--is a big threat to South Korea & Japan, it is a very distant threat to the US. But an Iran or a North Korea willing to sell nuclear and biological weapons to terrorists is very dangerous to America.

Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

1980s: Supported squadron of 132 B-2 stealth bombers

[In the 1980s], at a budget meeting in Newt Gingrich's office, it was not considered good politics to go up against the pro-defense lobby, especially for a Republican.

But I didn't think it was good government to keep signing up for these ridiculous expenditures. Most ridiculous of all, I came to think, was the development of the B-2 stealth bomber. At anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion per plane, it seemed a colossal misuse of taxpayer monies.

And we weren't talking about just one B-2. Initially, there was to be a squadron of 132 of these bombers, a number that was whittled down to 75 and eventually to 20, although that figure remained open for discussion.

At one point, Dick Cheney made a deal with me to freeze the number of planes o order at 20, in exchange for my agreeing to back down in my fight, which Newt Gingrich and company could then take as my grudging support. We even shook hands on it, and yet a year or so later Cheney was out there thumping for 40.

Source: Stand For Something, by John Kasich, p. 92-94 , May 23, 2007

Military tribunals to lock people up the way Lincoln did

Q: Specifically, how would you win the war in Iraq militarily?

A: 1) You would empower General Petraeus. You’d pass the supplemental immediately. You’d give him the money. 2) You would encourage the Iraqis to triple the size of their regular army. 3) You would encourage the development of a military tribunal system to lock people up the way Abraham Lincoln would’ve done it. 4) You would establish a nationwide ID card with biometrics so you can actually track everybody in the country. 5) You would make sure that the State Department actually staffed the embassy with people in favor of winning the war and you actually had your fully equipped intelligence and economic development teams. 6) Bring enormous pressure to bear on Iran to cut off everything [assisting with the Iraqi insurgency]. So, we ought to do what it takes to win, not tolerate legislating defeat.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

Defend America & allies with information policies

We must implement policies that will ensure America’s leadership, safety, and prosperity. To achieve this future we will defend America and our allies from those who would destroy us. To achieve security, we will develop the intelligence, diplomatic, information, defense, and homeland security systems and resources for success.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org , Dec 1, 2006

Biological threat bigger than nuclear threat

Biological warfare is the largest threat to the human race, a substantially bigger threat than nuclear war. If the US is hit with an engineered biological agent for which no vaccines are available, we are in for problems of colossal proportions.

Biological threats for which we have no rapid diagnostic tests & no drug treatments are so great that we should consider the preparation of a biological defensive system the highest priority in the American national security system and the most important job facing the new DHS.

    In thinking about weapons of mass destruction, a good rule of thumb is to put 80% of our effort into dealing with biological threats, 19.5% into nuclear threats, and 0.5% into chemical weapons. Six key areas must be addressed:
  1. Vision and strategy design
  2. Information technology investment
  3. Vaccinations and immunization
  4. Post-event treatment
  5. Civil defense transformation into a comprehensive 21st century system
  6. Biosecurity and education.
Source: Saving Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.275-284 , Sep 22, 2003

Wishes he volunteered for Vietnam; exempt due to young kids

By 1966, Vietnam draft calls were increasing, but Newt and Jackie had two young daughters. They earned him a deferment from the draft, but he of course had the option to volunteer. Newt supported the war effort, and not simply because Bob Gingrich, his step-father, was serving in counterguerilla operations in Vietnam. But, he said once, it would have been irrational for him to volunteer and leave two young daughters behind.

Over the years, I've heard Newt Gingrich say many times that he wishes he had volunteered. Whatever his feelings were in the middle of the 1960s--and if he was like most young men in his age group they changed more than once--Gingrich never was at risk of being inducted. The accusations of draft-dodging by his political foes ring hollow. And comparisons with Bill Clinton, who was consumed by finding the least politically damaging way to avoid service, are an exercise in apples and oranges.

Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 78-79 , Jun 1, 1995

Women not suitable for combat due to infections

Shortly after becoming Speaker, Gingrich told his college class that women are not suitable for combat because after 30 days in the ditch they are susceptible to infections. It became the firestorm of the week. His parallel comment that men were born to hunt giraffes was turned into high comedy. But students in his class knew he was exaggerating about male and female traits to make a point: Women have skills that make them better suited for many military specialties other than combat.

Amid the coverage of the comments, it was next to impossible to find a news story on the effects of extended field duty on female combatants. And it was impossible not to hear Rep. Pat Schroeder lampooning him by suggesting that no men she knew had a desire to hunt giraffes.

"Occasionally you get taken grotesquely out of context, but that's fine," Gingrich said. "It is part of the process of getting the message out."

Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.162 , Jun 1, 1995

Co-founded Military Reform Caucus as "cheap hawk solution"

Gingrich went around the House leadership to co-found the Military Reform Caucus, at a time when the huge Reagan defense buildup was under assault. Pentagon procurement scandals were prompting stories about $600 ashtrays and $1,200 toilet seats.

Gingrich developed the "cheap hawk solution": the nuclear age required a quick-response, mobile military; and such a force could be as effective as the Navy, with its expensive aircraft carriers, and the Army, with its huge, heavily armed divisions.

Gingrich allied himself with the analysts who were developing the fast-attack tenets of maneuver warfare called the AirLand Battle Doctrine. The "cheap hawk solution" became an arrow in the Republican quiver, as it staved off Democratic attempts to cut the Pentagon budget. "Don't try to reform the current system," he said of Pentagon procurement in early 1995. "It is hopeless. It is impossible." The Speaker views many current Pentagon policies as part of the antiquated industrial age.

Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.101 , Jun 1, 1995

No US troops under UN command; more defense spending.

Gingrich wrote the Contract with America:

[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:

The National Security Restoration Act:
No US troops under UN command, and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA8 on Sep 27, 1994

Other candidates on Homeland Security: Newt Gingrich on other issues:
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Page last updated: May 31, 2012