Rand Paul on Homeland Security
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.
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.
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
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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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AR: Pryor(D) vs.Cotton(R) vs.Swaney(G) vs.LaFrance(L)
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Senate Votes (analysis)