Rand Paul on Homeland Security
PAUL: I have proposed several 5-year budgets. And for me, the most important thing of the 5-year budgets has been to balance. The last one I produced did actually increase defense spending above the military sequester. But I did it by taking money from domestic spending. My belief has always been that national defense is the most important thing we do, but we shouldn't borrow to pay for it.
Q: But by proposing an increase in military spending before you announce for president, it could look like pandering.
PAUL: Well, 3 or 4 years ago, we did the same thing. So we have been for quite some time proposing increases in military spending, but always the point is that I believe any increase in spending should be offset by decreases in spending somewhere else.
We owe it to the men and women who have served in combat to provide them with quality care for injuries sustained in defense of this nation. We must provide our veterans the necessary support tools as they adjust back to civilian life.
We consider all veterans, service members and their families to be an important part of our local communities. As President, I will continue to support veterans and service members of this country. It is my strong belief that we must protect those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation.
It's all part of a campaign strategy to eliminate the widespread suspicion that Paul is an isolationist. But to many foreign-policy conservatives, Paul's past expressions of skepticism about US intervention abroad and support for sweeping cuts to the defense and foreign-aid budgets speak more loudly than his words on the campaign trail.
Paul's advisers insist that his views have matured since being elected to the Senate. He has educated himself on international affairs, and he's developed a "conservative realist" vision of America's role in the world that is not isolationist but still judicious about U.S. entanglements overseas.
The move completes a stunning reversal for Paul, who in May 2011, released his own budget that would have slashed the Pentagon, a sacred cow for many Republicans. Under Paul's original proposal, defense spending would have dropped from $553 billion in 2011 to $542 billion in 2016. But under Paul's new plan, the Pentagon will see its budget authority swell by $76 billion to $696 billion in fiscal year 2016. The boost would be offset by a $106 billion cut to funding for aid to foreign governments, climate change research and reductions to the budgets of the EPA, HUD, and the departments of Commerce and Education.
"When I look at government, I think the most important thing we do at the federal level is defend our country, without question," he stressed. "I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled... and unencumbered by nation building."
"Younger voters in particular don't like hypocrisy," Paul continued. "Him saying recently down in Florida that he would still incarcerate people even for medical marijuana, and then it turns out--him basically acknowledging that he'd been using recreational marijuana as a kid. I don't think anybody faults him for youthful indiscretions. But if you look at the people who end up getting caught up in the war on drugs, they're often not elite kids at prep schools. They're poor kids with no school."
Hillary's war in Libya is a prime example of acting without thinking. In Libya, jihadists swim in our embassy pool, and we are now more at risk from terrorist attacks than ever before.
Unfortunately, both parties too often seek military intervention without thinking through the possible unintended consequences. Many Republicans complain that we didn't send US ground troops or we didn't stay long enough.
The Middle East is in the midst of a 1,000-year war between Sunni and Shia--superimposed on a century-old war pitting a barbaric aberration of Islam against civilized Islam. We are foolish to believe we will solve this puzzle. We must defend vital American interests, but we must not be deluded into believing that we can remake the Middle East in an image of Western Democracy.
To defend ourselves, we need a lean, mean fighting machine that doesn't waste money on a bloated civilian bureaucracy. The civilian bureaucracy at the Pentagon has doubled in the past 30 years, gobbling up the money necessary to modernize our defense. That's why I will propose the first ever Audit of the Pentagon, and seek ways to make our defense department more modern and efficient.
Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio weighed in with one of the strongest responses, in a joint statement with Idaho's Sen. Jim Risch, calling the release of the report "reckless and irresponsible" and demanding a more current detention and interrogation policy. Sen. Ted Cruz said "Senate Democrats have endangered Americans" by releasing the report.
A high-stakes vote over the future of the NSA further tested Republicans' relationships in the Valley. Paul and others had supported a major overhaul of the agency's authorities to collect Americans' communications in bulk--but the senator shocked tech giants and civil-liberties groups when he pulled support at the last minute, as the USA Freedom Act reached the Senate floor for a key procedural vote. Rubio long had stated his opposition, citing emerging terrorist threats and the need for more intelligence.
Paul defended his vote on surveillance reform, stressing in an interview he "couldn't vote for it because it reauthorized the PATRIOT Act"--a law he described as "heinous."
PAUL: I think if you want to be Commander-in-Chief the bar you have to cross is will you defend the country--will you provide adequate security--and that's why Benghazi is not a political question for me. To me it's not the talking points--that's never been the most important part of Benghazi--it's the six months leading up to Benghazi where there were multiple requests for more security--and it never came. This was under Hillary Clinton's watch. She will have to overcome that--and we will make her answer for Benghazi.
PAUL: She will have to explain how she can be commander and chief when she was not responsive to multiple requests for more security in the six months leading up. She wouldn't approve a 16-person personnel team and she would not approve an airplane to help them get around the country. In the last 24 hours, a plane was very important and it was not available. These are really serious questions beyond talking points that occurred under her watch.
Q: Benghazi is disqualifying for her?
PAUL: I think so. The American people want a commander-in-chief that will send reinforcements, that will defend the country, and that will provide the adequate security. And I think in the moment of need--a long moment, a six-month moment--she wasn't there.
(VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton, makes hundreds of millions of dollars as CEO. Next thing you know, he's back in government it's a good idea to go to Iraq. (END VIDEO CLIP)
Q: Do you really think that Cheney was motivated by his financial ties to Halliburton?
PAUL: I'm not questioning his motives. I don't think Dick Cheney did it out of malevolence, I think he loves his country as much as I love the country.
Q: But you said we don't want our defense to be defined by people who make money off the weapons.
PAUL: There's a chance for a conflict of interest. At one point in time, he was opposed going into Baghdad. Then he was out of office and involved in the defense industry and then he became for going into Baghdad.
PAUL: I think that's an incorrect conclusion, you know. I would say my foreign policy is right there with what came out of Ronald Reagan.
Q: But Reagan went through a huge defense buildup. One of the first things you did when you got elected was propose a nearly $50 billion cut to the Pentagon, bigger than the sequester.
PAUL: The sequester actually didn't cut spending; the sequester cut the rate of growth of spending over 10 years.
Q: But the point is you proposed curbing defense spending more than the sequester.
PAUL: Even though I believe national defense is the most important thing we do, but it isn't a blank check. Some conservatives think, oh, give them whatever they want and that everything is for our soldiers and they play up this patriotism that--oh, we don't have to control defense spending. We can't be a trillion dollars in the hole every year.
Paul's remarks were at least a change in tone from last month, when he said that, "Some on our side are so stuck in the Cold War era that they want to tweak Russia all the time and I don't think that is a good idea."
Yet, as our voices rise in protest, the NSA monitors your every phone call. If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.
I believe this is a profound constitutional question: can a single warrant be applied to millions of American's credit cards? Your government says you don't own your records, that your Visa statement does not belong to you. I disagree, the 4th Amendment is very clear, warrants should be issued by a judge, warrants must be specific to the individual.
PAUL: I don't know whether any information has been distributed to foreign powers, and that would be a great deal of concern. But I'm also concerned that the national defense director lied to Congress. He's seriously damaged out standing in the world. Now, we're seen to be spying not only on foreign leaders, but there's an accusation that we spied on the pope, as well.
Q: Do you think the NSA should get out ahead of all of this and put out everything they knew Snowden to have?
PAUL: Maybe. But I think the fundamental question about whether or not this is constitutional or not should not be decided by the administration, nor by a secret FISA court. It needs to get into the Supreme Court. I've introduced a FISA bill that would allow cases like this to be challenged in open court. And we should determine once and all whether or not a single warrant can apply to every American. I don't think it does and I think the Supreme Court will side with us.
PAUL: I was pleased with his words, However, there still is a question in my mind of what he thinks due process is? You know, due process to most of us is a court of law, it's a trial by a jury. For example, last year we passed legislation that I voted against, and that's detaining citizens indefinitely without a trial, and sending them to Guantanamo Bay.
Q: The president did speak about closing Guantanamo. Do you think it should be closed?
PAUL: No. I think it's become a symbol of something though, and I think things should change. For example, I think the people being held there are bad people. What I would do though is accuse them, charge them, and try them in military tribunals, or trials. And I think that would go a long way toward showing the world that we're not going to hold them without charge forever.
PAUL: If people are attacking the Twin Towers with planes, I never argued you wouldn't use drones or F-16s to repel that kind of attack. The problem is, a lot of the drone attacks are killing people not actively engaged in combat. If you are accused of being associated with terrorism, which could mean you are an Arab-American and you've sent e-mails to a relative in the Middle East, you should get your day in court. Did the president completely slam the door on not using drones? No, I think there's wiggle room in there, but we did force him to at least narrow what his power is and that was my goal.
President Obama who seemed, once upon a time, to respect civil liberties, has become the President who signed a law allowing for the indefinite detention of an American citizen. Indeed, a law that allows an American citizen to be sent to Guantanamo Bay without a trial. President Obama defends his signing of the bill by stating that he has no intention of detaining any American citizen without a trial.
Likewise, he defended his possible targeted Drone strikes against Americans on American soil by indicating that he has no intention of doing so. Well, my 13-hour filibuster was a message to the President. Good intentions are not enough. We want to know, will you or won't you defend the Constitution?
There can be no justice if you combine the Executive and Judicial branch into one. We separated arrest and accusation from trial and verdict for a reason. In our country, the police can arrest, but only your peers can convict. We prize our Bill of Rights like no other country.
To those who would dismiss this debate as frivolous, I say tell that to the heroic young men and women who have sacrificed their limbs and lives, tell it to the 6,000 parents whose kids died as American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell them that the Bill of Rights is no big deal.
Yes, the filibuster was about drones, but also about much more. Do we have a Bill of Rights or not? Do we have a Constitution or not and will we defend it?
Our Founding Fathers spent, and often gave, their lives to build a new country, where men could truly be free, a nation where the rights granted to us by our Creator could not be trampled on or taken by government.
PAUL: I am concerned about one person deciding the life or death of not only foreigners but US citizens around the world. And the chance that one person could make a mistake is a possibility. So having the president decide who he's going to kill concerns me. I would rather it go through the FISA court. They make the decision over weeks and months. They target people and go after them. I see no reason why there couldn't be some sort of court preceding, even a secret court preceding, to allow some protection. I mean, even in the US where we have the best due process probably in the world, we have probably executed people wrongfully for the death penalty. They have found out through DNA testing, many people on death row are there inaccurately. So I think when we decide to kill someone, that's obviously the ultimate punishment. We need to be very, very certain that what we're doing is not in error.
But over the past 10 years, our mission expanded to include a fourth goal: nation-building. That is what we are bogged down in now: a prolonged effort to create a strong central government, a national police force and an army, and civic institutions in a nation that never had any to begin with. Let's not forget that Afghanistan has been a tribal society for millenniums.
When Conway was asked whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, he said "yes," without elaborating.
Paul's campaign spokesman said in an e-mail without elaboration, "Dr. Paul believes this is a matter that should be decided by the leadership of the military, not through political posturing."
Republicans in the US Senate this week stopped a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" when Democrats attached an amendment seeking the repeal to a defense bill. Republicans said a Pentagon study on the impact of ending the policy should be completed before there is any move toward repeal.
The men and women of our armed services deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are. No other group of federal employees is subject to such unfair treatment as our service men and women; and no other deserves the best.
"We give billion dollar contracts to Halliburton and they turn around and spend millions on lobbyists to go ask for more money for government so it's an endless cycle of special interest lobbyists then the weapons we decide make--we're being influenced by the makers of weapons on which are the best weapons. That's a crime."
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Smith, R-TX]: America is safe today not because terrorists and spies have given up their goal to destroy our freedoms and our way of life. We are safe today because the men and women of our Armed Forces, our intelligence community, and our law enforcement agencies work every single day to protect us. And Congress must ensure that they are equipped with the resources they need to counteract continuing terrorist threats. On Feb. 28, three important provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire. These provisions give investigators in national security cases the authority to conduct "roving" wiretaps, to seek certain business records, and to gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group. The Patriot Act works. It has proved effective in preventing terrorist attacks and protecting Americans. To let these provisions expire would leave every American less safe.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Conyers, D-MI]: Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows a secret FISA court to authorize our government to collect business records or anything else, requiring that a person or business produce virtually any type record. We didn't think that that was right then. We don't think it's right now. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. And so I urge a "no" vote on the extension of these expiring provisions.
Status: Passed 86-12
The Christian Coalition voter guide [is] one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections. This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.
The CC survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Enforcing the 1993 law banning homosexuals in the military"
Congressional Summary:Expressing the conditions for the US becoming a signatory to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Opponent's argument against bill:(United Nations press release, June 3, 2013):
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon str
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