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Mike Gravel on Homeland Security

Libertarian for President; Former Democratic Senator (AK)


In Congress, personified opposition to American militarism

This book tells two tales: the story of a man, and the story of the military establishment. The separate histories of my life and American militarism collided in 1968, when I arrived in the Senate at the age of 38. Senator Scoop Jackson personified the military-industrial power even more than I personified its opposition. During the CIA and coup-driven 1950s, I had cooperated with the military establishment as an Army intelligence officer. Then I politically awoke. By the time I arrived in Congress, I was ready to battle the too-powerful executive branch over nuclear testing and the Vietnam War.

I picked up the battle again in the 2008 Democratic presidential debates. Most of my Democratic opponents supported militarism almost as much as the Republicans. 60 years after World War II, the military industries and the Pentagon had secured dominance over Congress, the White House, and the news media. This has never been more apparent than in the invasion of Iraq and the so-called War on Terror.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 13 May 2, 2008

Soldiers die in vain if war serves only elite interests

[I said in a debate, “All who died in] Vietnam died in vain. And they’re dying in vain [in Iraq] right this very second. And do you know what’s worse than a soldier dying in vain? It’s more soldiers dying in vain. That’s what’s worse.” I was misunderstood on that last comment. I value all human life, innocent Iraqi civilians equally with American soldiers. All these deaths in Iraq have served no wider cause than the narrow interests of the American elite. Most wars serve few interests, yet we pretend it’s for democracy. Dying unwittingly for the elite is dying in vain, without any democratic purpose. They died, and the American taxpayer paid for their deaths, because Americans have been lured into fearing phantom threats. From the Soviets to the Viet Minh to Saddam Hussein, a lot of men have gotten rich from false fears, and a lot more men and women have died. Even serious threats, like terrorism, are purposely exaggerated along with the response to it.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 20-21 May 2, 2008

President’s job since WWII is pitchman for war industry

The president’s chief job since the end of WWII is, above all, pitchman for the war industries. WWI meant convincing the American people to enter an overseas conflict that didn’t directly threaten them. So a manageable threat had to be exaggerated. After winning, the US military was demobilized; defense spending shrunk and the private armaments industry contracted.

WWII changed that. The military-industrial relationship was formalized and the economy became dependent on it. By 1949 there was a peacetime draft, a new Defense Department, a CIA and a National Security Council coordinating the national security state. Except, there was no war. So tension with Russia was exalted into a global struggle against a highly embellishe Communist “threat.” We were bathed in irrational fear during the entire Cold War to keep the military factories--and our irrational insecurities--humming. And now the phantom peril has seamlessly merged into the War on Terror.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 22 May 2, 2008

Released full Pentagon Papers when Nixon stopped publication

I was terrified. I knew I could be breaking the law & my staff and I could wind up in jail. But I also felt my whole life had been lived to reach this moment. I started reading aloud from the top-secret Pentagon Papers, the classified study about Vietnam that everyone in Washington was buzzing about.

Two weeks earlier, the NY Times had published excerpts, [about which] Nixon said: “Let’s get the son-of-a-bitch [who leaked it] in jail.” Publication stopped the next day. Two days later, the Washington Post published its first installment. But the government then immediately restrained them, too. No one knew if the Papers would ever be published again.

“It is my constitutional obligation to protect the security of the people by fostering the free flo of information absolutely essential to their democratic decision-making,” I began. Then I started with Chapter One, making the Pentagon Papers public. The study was classified “top secret--sensitive” to mostly cover up the screw-ups and hidden motives.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 29-33 May 2, 2008

Made into Senate pariah for releasing Pentagon Papers

The newspapers killed me. “Action by Gravel Vexes Senators” was the NY Times’ headline. “He read from the study for three and one-half hours, with his voice sometimes breaking into sobs, and tears occasionally rolling down his face,” the Times wrote. “Hi action incurred the displeasure of many of his colleagues, who felt that it reflected on the dignity and composure of the Senate.” I was a pariah.

The day before I read the Pentagon Papers, Nixon tried to satiate Congress by making a single copy available to each House. They were locked up in two rooms in the Capitol, with guards posted outside. Members could go in and read but take no notes. Can you imagine how my colleagues viewed me when, with the press muzzled and the only available copies behind guarded doors, I made the entire study public?

One Senator called for my security clearance to be removed. Another suggested I had violated Senate Rule 36, requiring senators to keep secret all confidential information from the executive.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 39-40 May 2, 2008

Boston publisher finally printed Pentagon Papers

[Although we won relevant court cases, Nixon] got what he wanted: The criminal probe cast a chill in newsrooms across the country. If the press wouldn’t continue publishing the Papers, I would.

I sought a commercial publisher for the 4,100-page subcommittee record. Americans had to know the whole story about how government lies ultimately killed more than 58,000 Americans and 3 million Southeast Asians--just as we need today to expose all the lies about Iraq.

I received many rejections that summer of 1971. Publishers knew the risk. But the publisher Beacon Press in Boston didn’t care. Like me, they felt the press was letting the public down.

Twelve days before the publication date, the Pentagon published its own paperback edition. So much for harming national security. If you can’t beat them, beat them to it. It was pure Nixonian vindictiveness to take the wind out of Beacon’s sails and sales.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 50-51 May 2, 2008

Sued by Nixon in Supreme Court case

In January 1972, the appeals court reached its decision on Rodberg, [who was subpoenaed as Gravel’s staffer in releasing the Pentagon Papers]. It affirmed his immunity from questioning about his work with me in the Capitol, but it went further. The court said that though private publication was not protected by the Constitution, Rodberg also had a common law privilege not to be questioned about our dealings with Beacon Press [the Boston publisher who agreed to publish the full Pentagon Papers]. The court considered it a legislative act even outside the Capitol. It was a great victory. Rodberg did not have to testify.

But the appeals court said third parties with knowledge of the Beacon deal were not protected and could be questioned, includin officers at Beacon itself. [Nixon appealed, and the case went to the Supreme Court]. My Supreme Court case became something of a cause c‚lŠbre among the more fashionable people of the anti-war set. I admit that I enjoyed the notoriety.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 55 May 2, 2008

Bush & military-industrialists rule by fear-mongering

Since World War II ended, the government has drugged us with fear. Like an old-fashioned protection racket politicians terrify us then present themselves as the only ones who can protect us. So, lemming like, we elect them. Then they hand big profits to the military-industrialists, who help make sure lawmakers and presidents are re-elected. First our leaders made us afraid of Communists under our beds. Then it was the racist message of street crime. Now it’s Islamic extremists. But it gets worse than that in the form of George W. Bush’s economic policies: tax breaks for the rich, tampering with FDR’s social security, blocking health care for all, even vetoing a child health care bill in the fall of 2007 are other ways to plot fear by keeping Americans terrified of imminent economic ruin. It breeds obedience, and is the exact opposite of FDR’s message.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 76 May 2, 2008

CIA NIE ignored in 1947 about Cold War; & in 2004 about Iraq

The first three National Intelligence Estimates of the new CIA, from 1947 to 1949, reported no evidence of a Soviet threat, no infrastructure to support a sustained threat, no evidence of efforts to spread Communism outside its borders, and no evidence of a desire for confrontation with the United States. The intelligence was ignored. It wouldn’t be the last time.

There is a direct line between leading Cold Warriors and the neocons. From 1975 to 1977, while I was in the Senate fighting the Pentagon, Rumsfeld was part of Team B, a secret group created by George H. W. Bush that disagreed with the CIA and falsely claimed a huge Soviet military advantage. Twenty-seven years later Rumsfeld assured the press that there were WMD in Iraq and he knew exactly where they were.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.120-126 May 2, 2008

1969: Opposed early ABM anti-missile systems

On March 14, 1969, Pres. Nixon sent Congress a revised proposal for a $10.8 billion anti-ballistic missile system (ABM), called Safeguard. I was face-to-face for the first time with the beast: the military-industrial complex. This kind of wasteful project sold on a hyped-up threat was the hallmark of the Cold War. Nixon wanted a new multi-billion dollar toy that rested on the fanciful notion, dispelled by Pentagon intelligence, that the Soviets were driving for first-strike capability. The ABM supposedly would neutralize it. I knew enough about the Nike Hercules stationed in Alaska to see they didn’t work. Since ancient warfare it’s been easier to make more spears than build new shields

Each new weapons system triggers development and deployment of another. We don’t want to be constantly responding to the responses we’ve ourselves induced. [The ABM vote was a tie, and V.P. Spiro Agnew broke the tie in favor of ABMs].

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.157-165 May 2, 2008

Bush’s ABMs don’t work well but do enrich insiders

At the SALT talks an agreement was reached on an ABM Treaty that was ratified in 1972. It proved that if you built an ABM system that could knock down 1,000 missiles, just build 1,001. The military-industrialists won this round. People everywhere, drugged with false fears, lost.

They are still losing. ABM systems are at the heart of the military-industrial complex. That’s why Reagan later tried to build Star Wars and the Patriot missiles and why George W. Bush pulled out of th ABM Treaty. It was just two months after 9/11 and Bush was already exploiting the new fear to resurrect the cash cow of ABMs.

The new threat was a godsend for a military-industrial complex threatened by the end of the Cold War. Bush ludicrously wants to install new ABM defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic to “protect” against Iranian missiles. ABM systems don’t shoot down incoming missiles very well, but they work wonders to enrich those in on the game.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.167-168 May 2, 2008

1969: Protested nuclear bomb tests on Aleutians

The Aleutian Islands in 1965 was deemed the perfect place to test nuclear warheads for the ABM system. Alaska’s senators, Congressman, & governor signed off on it, despite concern after Anchorage’s March 1964 earthquake.

I started protesting it in the Senate by May 1969. As many scientists were opposed to the test, I introduced a resolution calling for a scientific commission on nuclear testing independent of government to study the safety of tests. I wrote a letter to the New York Times in which I disputed Atomic Energy Commission’s claims that earthquakes would not result. “I have in my possession a dozen AEC documents stating the opposite,” I wrote. “We do not know very much about the effects of nuclear testing, especially in a geologically unstable area such as Alaska.”

The bomb was exploded in October 1969. A series of small earthquakes were triggered. There were massive landslides, rivers and lakes shot water fifty feet in the air, and the ground was raised six feet.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.173-175 May 2, 2008

Peacetime draft militarizes the culture

The unneeded peacetime draft, instituted by Truman in 1948, helped fuel the Cold War and militarize the culture. It allowed presidents to further their ambitions with the lives of innocent men. It permitted Johnson to put ground troops in Vietnam without a declaration of war by Congress. Forced military conscription represents an undemocratic repression of individual liberties.

[I undertook a filibuster in the Senate to end the draft]. My filibuster delayed extending the draft by a couple of months. In September my debate was cut off. I failed to bring about the immediate end to the draft that I wanted. But I believe my filibuster held Nixon to the two year extension that he had sought In 1973 Nixon stuck to his pledge not to revive the draft knowing that he would run into trouble in Congress again with my threat to renew my filibuster.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.179-180 May 2, 2008

Foreign arms sales funnel money back to defense industry

In May 1978 there was a controversial vote to sell F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and F-5s to Egypt. The vote caused an outcry in the American Jewish community. But Congress approved the deal to support Carter’s more even-handed approach to the Middle East quandary. I supported the idea that in the long run it would be better for Israel’s security. But Barney saw it as a betrayal. Just four months later, on September 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were reached, and Egypt made peace with Israel the following year: Carter’s greatest achievement. Arms sales to foreign governments were increased in these days to make up for Carter’s initial defense spending at home. Since many of these foreign sales were purchased with US military aid, it was a way of funneling taxpayers’ money through foreign capitals and back into the US defense industry pockets--the point of the exercise.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.202 May 2, 2008

Reagan’s SDI set stage for Bush’s trashing the ABM treaty

Nuclear weapons, both offensive and defensive (ABMs) were among the most lucrative Cold War projects. Reagan hawked nukes like he had borax soap. While many Americans allowed themselves to be scared by this two-bit pitchman, many other Americans didn’t. The mass movement who had mobilized against the Vietnam War found a new target: nuclear weapons.

Reagan responded with a move designed to appear as a step toward nuclear disarmament. It was clearly a new cash cow for the military industries: the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars. Portrayed as a defensive weapon, the Soviets pointed out that a defensive shield in space could easily be used offensively. Besides, it violated the ABM Treaty.

That set the tone in government for Bush’s later trashing of the ABM Treaty and other international laws. Reagan’s Star Wars gambit paid off--it dampened the mass movement against nuclear weapons, while SDI and other military spending delivered the biggest budget deficit in US history.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.209-210 May 2, 2008

Need new 9/11 investigation on sources of Bin Laden’s power

It is odd that the Bush administration turned to Pakistan to hunt the 9/11 culprits. Maybe that’s why bin Laden and the Taliban still live comfortably in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. While General Musharraf’s army was supposedly hunting them down, he diverted millions of US taxpayers’ dollars intended to fight the extremists to upgrade his defenses against India instead.

Extremists like bin Laden would have little popular support if not for American support of repressive Arab regimes. Most Middle Eastern rulers have been American surrogates, often exchanging oil for arms.

Given Saudi, Pakistani, and US intelligence support for extremist groups in the murky world of black markets, black operations, and espionage, I’m not sure we will ever know why September 11 happened. The 9/11 Commission certainly didn’t tell us. That’s why I’ve called for a new investigation. The administration taking office in 2009 should have the guts to do it. These networks still operate inside the US.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.220-221 May 2, 2008

No monitoring domestic communication; no military tribunals

Q: Do you support using military tribunals to try suspected terrorists when ordinary civilian courts are deemed inappropriate or impractical?

A: No.

Q: Should law enforcement agencies have greater discretion to monitor domestic communications, to prevent future terrorist attacks?

A: No.

Q: Should the United States hold foreign states accountable for terrorists who operate in their country?

A: No.

Q: Do you support the creation of a federal identification card system?

A: No.

Source: Presidential Election 2008 Political Courage Test Apr 22, 2008

No additional homeland security funding; no missile defense

Q: Should the federal government increase funding to states and cities for homeland security?

A: No.

Q: Do you support pre-emptive military strikes against countries deemed to be a threat to US national security?

A: No.

Q: Do you support long-term use of National Guard troops to supplement the armed forces in assignments overseas?

A: No.

Q: Should the US expand its missile defense shield?

A: No.

Gravel adds, “We should be decreasing our military, not increasing it.

Source: Presidential Election 2008 Political Courage Test Apr 22, 2008

1960s: Wept openly in Senate because US is dragged in mud

It could be argued that Gravel’s so-called tirades, especially on the Iraq War, result not from naivete, but from a kind of experience that none of the other candidates share.

Until the debates, Gravel’s low-budget campaign may have been nearly invisible. Yet to older progressives, Gravel is hardly an unknown. During the 1960s, he was often in the news as one of Congress’s fiercest opponents of the Vietnam War. In his most famous act, Gravel helped make public the Pentagon Papers by carrying them into the Senate in two suitcases and reading them into the record--for a time, with tears streaming down his face.

In a television interview he said, “I wept because it hurts to see our nation dragged in the mud... to be part of a nation that is killing innocent human beings.” Gravel is also credited with mounting filibusters and cutting legislative deals that helped stop the draft, and later with fighting nuclear testing and nuclear power.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.194 Nov 11, 2007

I ended the draft; I stopped nuclear testing

Q: What recommends you to them, in terms of experience, change, leadership?

A: I’m the fellow that ended the draft. I’m the one that stopped the nuclear testing in the north Pacific. I’m the one that brought about the Alaska pipeline. I’m the one that released the Pentagon Papers and had to go to the Supreme Court because Richard Nixon was trying to throw me in jail. That’s what I did 30 years ago. That was leadership then. And I was excoriated by the media at that point. I was a loose cannon. Well, right today, I’ve had the good fortune to live this long, and people look back and say, “My God, were you a courageous leader.” Well, that’s the leadership you’ll get when I become president of the United States. Now, can the American people stand that kind of leadership? That remains to be seen.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Terrorism is not a war; treat it as a criminal act

Q: What would you do that hasn’t already been done to capture bin Laden, which hasn’t been done previously?

A: Well, the first thing that you would do is to realize that terrorism is not a war. Our war on terrorism makes no sense. We’ve had terrorism since the beginning of civilization, and we’ll have it to the end of civilization. It must be treated as a criminal act for what it is. The US should now interface with Interpol and with other countries to bring these people to justice, but our government has done just the opposite. We had the help of Iran to do away with the Taliban three years ago, then we called them an “Axis of Evil.” We had the help of other countries, and now they do--our government doesn’t need them. We have a database of 7 million stolen passports at Interpol and it’s headed up by an American, and not one American intelligence agency has ever accessed that database. We can’t even put the dots together here little more than can we do it globally.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish Sep 9, 2007

We are STILL expanding our nuclear capability

Q: [to Edwards]: Is Obama right or wrong to rule out nukes against Al Qaeda?

EDWARDS: As president, I would not talk about hypotheticals in nuclear weapons. I think that effectively limits your options. What I would do as president, is to lead an international effort over time to eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet. That’s the way to make the planet more secure.

GRAVEL: That’s very good but, under the last 25 years, this nation has continued to expand its nuclear capability.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

US has nothing to fear; fear sustains the military complex

If you look a little deeper at & the human psyche, there’s only two divisions. There’s love and fear. Love implements a whole beneficial area of our psyche. But fear is what we’ve been living under for the last 50 years in order to sustain the military complex--stop and think; we’re afraid of everything in the US . There’s nothing to fear. There’s nothing at all. And as president, I will call upon the courage in the people to step forward and express themselves with what counts, and that’s love.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Filibustered to end the draft; but women should register

Q: Do you think women should register for the draft like men do currently?

A: Well, of course I want to take credit and admit that I’m the guy that filibustered for five months, all by myself, in the Senate to end the draft in the United States of America. And I’m very proud of that because George Bush does not have the boots on the ground to invade Iran.

Q: Should women register?

A: Of course women should go into the draft if we’re going to have a draft, and should register also.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Cut Pentagon by more than 15%; we’re squandering money

KUCINICH [to Gravel]: Spending up to $2 trillion on this war, that is money out of the educational lives of our children. I’m ready to see at least a 15% reduction in that bloated Pentagon budget, stop funding war, start funding education.

GRAVEL: Dennis, you’re a little too modest on that. I think we can cut a little more than 15%, very much so. You have heard these nostrums before. You’ve heard it 10 years ago, you’ve heard 20 years ago--why doesn’t it change? The Democratic Party hasn’t done appreciably better than the Republican Party in solving these problems. It has to be solved the people, not by your leaders. When he’s talking about the money we’re squandering--21 million Americans could have a four-year college scholarship for the money we’ve squandered in Iraq--7.6 million teachers could have been hired last year if we weren’t squandering this money. Now, how do you think we got into this problem? There is linkage!

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

FactCheck: Yes, Iraq money could fund 21M scholarships

We found that the candidates’ claims checked out, even some of the more conspicuous ones. We confirmed Gravel’s dramatic claim about what could have been purchased with the money spent on the war. Gravel said, “21 million Americans could have a four-year college scholarship for the money we’ve squandered in Iraq.”

Whether the money has been “squandered” is of course a matter on which opinions differ. But we calculate that the cost of covering all tuition and fees for 21 million students, based on the average charges for public colleges and universities for each of the past four years, would have come to $443 billion, which is just under what CRS says has been appropriated for the Iraq war so far.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard U. Jun 28, 2007

Threatening nukes is immoral foreign policy

When you have mainline candidates that say that there’s nothing off the table with respect to Iran, that’s code for using nuclear devices. I got to tell you, when I’m president of the United States, there will be no preemptive wars with nukes--nuclear devices. To my mind, it’s immoral, and it’s been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Fighting terrorism with a war doesn’t work

We are mischaracterizing terrorism. Terrorism has been with civilization from the beginning. And it will be there to the end. We’re going to be as successful fighting terrorism as we are fighting drugs with a war. It doesn’t work. What you have to do is to begin to change the whole foreign policy. This invasion brought about more terrorists. Osama bin Laden must have been rolling in his blankets how happy he was over our invading Iraq.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

US is the greatest violator of the non-proliferation treaty

OBAMA: I think it would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran. But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region.

GRAVEL: With respect to Iran, we’ve sanctioned them for 26 years. We scared the bejesus out of them when the president says, “They’re evil.” Well, you know something? These things don’t work. They don’t work. We need to recognize them. And you know something? Who is the greatest violator of the non-proliferation treaty The United States of America. We signed a pledge that we would begin to disarm, and we’re not doing it. We’re expanding our nukes. Who the hell are we going to nuke? Tell me, Barack. Barack, who do you want to nuke?

OBAMA: I’m not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike, I promise.

GRAVEL: Good. Good. We’re safe then, for a while.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Filibustered the draft in ‘71, causing its expiration in ‘73

In 1971, the same year that he placed more than 4,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record, he embarked on a one-man filibuster against a bill renewing the draft. Using various parliamentary methods, Gravel was able to block the bill for five months before President Richard Nixon and Senate Republicans agreed to allow the draft to expire in 1973.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, “Mike Gravel” Jan 1, 2007

Raze Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons to the ground

Source: Campaign website, www.gravel2008.us, “Issues” Dec 25, 2006

Cut US nuclear arsenal from 10,000 to a couple hundred

The critical problem with nuclear proliferation is that more and more nuclear bombs are added to the world’s stock pile. There are already too many nuclear devices on earth today--regardless of who owns them.

I propose we cut the number of our nuclear devices from the more than 10,000 we have to a couple hundred. Such a unilateral action would establish the United States’ credibility to then ask other nations, including our “enemies” who would then feel less threatened, to join our efforts in ridding the world of unneeded and dangerous nukes. This would set the stage for us to convene a global conference to write a new nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

What I propose is to jumpstart what was agreed to in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970 and extended in 1995 by all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the original Nuclear Club (the US, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France) -- they agreed to reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Source: Speech at the N.H. Institute of Politics, Manchester NH Nov 1, 2006

War on terror will fail like war on drugs & war on poverty

Solving the Israeli- Palestinian problem and the energy problem will set the stage to crush terrorism, its advocates and its financiers. Characterizing the effort to control terrorism as a “war” is grossly misleading and leads us to believe the only solution is a military one. It promotes a never-ending culture of war. A “war” on terror will be no more successful than the war on drugs, or the war on poverty.
Source: Speech at the N.H. Institute of Politics, Manchester NH Nov 1, 2006

Fight terrorism with dogged global police work

Terrorism is fought best by thoughtful, honest intelligence and dogged police work, and by building economic opportunities for those who feel hopeless. The U.S. should lead an effort of willing nations to create a global intelligence institution and a global police organization, similar to NATO. Terrorism is a global problem that requires a coordinated global response, not just with intelligence and police work, but with creative economic and humanitarian programs.
Source: Speech at the N.H. Institute of Politics, Manchester NH Nov 1, 2006

Remove power to declare war from Congress-they’ve abdicated

Pledging to pursue aggressive diplomacy and not war, the senator said, “I will remove our troops from Iraq expeditiously and without contingency, President Bush’s mistake is not worth the life or maiming of one more American soldier.”

The senator promised to place before the people an amendment to the Constitution, removing the power to declare war from Congress who, in any case, has abdicated their responsibility to the President, and making it the responsibility of the people.

Source: Press release “Announces Run for President” Apr 17, 2006

Fought & beat Nixon White House on Pentagon Papers in 1971

Gravel came to national prominence in 1971, during the struggle over the Pentagon Papers, the secret official study that detailed how missteps & manipulations by successive US administrations and their agents had created the quagmire that was the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst, provoked a national uproar when he put the report in the hands of the New York Times. The Justice Department moved to punish newspaper publishers who revealed the contents. At that point, Gravel stepped in. The senator tried to read the contents of the study into the Senate record and to release them to the public, arguing that he had the authority to do so as a senator communicating with his constituents. When Justice Department went after the senator and his publisher, Gravel fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The high court rejected his claim. Fortunately for Gravel, publicity surrounding the case was so damning to the Nixon administration’s position that it finally backed off.
Source: The Nation, “Pentagon Papers Figure Bids for Presidency” Apr 14, 2006

Bush administration’s secrecy is worse than Nixon’s

A scrappy former speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, as senator Gravel had little patience with the secrecy and compromises of official Washington. As a presidential candidate, Gravel will highlight his passionate opposition to the Iraq War, which he frequently compares to Vietnam, and to the secrecy and dishonesty of the Bush administration, which he suggests is worse in many senses than what he saw during the Nixon years.

After the indictment last fall of Scooter Libby, as part of the ongoing investigation of moves by the Bush-Cheney administration to punish former Ambassador Joe Wilson for revealing that the president’s arguments for going to war with Iraq were unfounded, Gravel said. “This is much more serious [than many of the fights over Nixon’s wrongdoing]. What we are talking about here is actually a conspiracy of elements of the Bush administration to lie to the American people, so that they could go to war in Iraq.”

Source: The Nation, “Pentagon Papers Figure Bids for Presidency” Apr 14, 2006

Cut military budget in half--we don’t need such “readiness”

This country has been maintaining its military forces on a wartime basis since the late 1940s. Our overseas forces are ready to move instantly to repel an attack, and the “strategic reserves” in the continental US are ready for deployment overseas within 30 days. The difficulty is that neither we nor our allies believe a war is imminent.

Those who refuse to reexamine our purposes in keeping this vast army deployed around the world must accept responsibility for the snowballing disintegration of our armed forces--disintegrating as their reason for coming together disappears. I believe our military budget need be only half as large as it is to achieve the valid purposes for which we need military force.

The actual defense of the US takes only a small portion of what is called the “defense” budget. We are in the fortunate position of requiring almost no defense at all from conventional attack on our shores. The cost of operating our strategic forces can and should be drastically reduced.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p. 76-82 Jan 1, 1972

Government secrecy creates 1984-style state

During the past quarter century we have witnessed a growing separation of the state apparatus--including the presidency, the Department of Defense, the CIA, FBI, the Department of State, and associated agencies--from the people it is supposed to be protecting. It is axiomatic that the custodians of the state will attempt to preserve it and to advance its interests. But when the state surrounds itself with the structures of secrecy, creates a loyalty system to ensure that those who serve it possess its values, and maintains a surveillance network to detect and apprehend citizens who oppose its purposes, then we are far along toward a 1984-style state when which suppresses citizens and only serves its own interests.

In such a system, policy-makers act on the international scene to advance their own interests and those of the state, rather than those of the citizens they are supposed to represent or the people in other lands affected by their policies.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p. 51 Jan 1, 1972

National security is no need for government secrecy

There must be an end to national decision-making in secret and policy implementation by executive fiat. This requires easy access to virtually all information by the public and, with rare and defined exceptions, the removal of all limits on the information available to its elected representatives. The government’s shrill claims of a “need” for secrecy must give way to the higher priority of the citizen’s right to know.

At present, the scales are tipped heavily in favor of the government. Information is systematically classified and withheld from the public for vaguely determined reasons of “national security” and denied to Congress by the imperious assertion of “executive privilege.” These two ridiculously flexible tools of secrecy provide self-appointed decision-makers with a protective shield against public accountability.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p.223-224 Jan 1, 1972


Mike Gravel on -2

Presidential imperialism feeds the arms industry

The inability of the government to handle modern arms production without a major assist from private arms manufacturers during World War I led to a dramatically new and enduring development in the military-industrial relationship. During the Second World War an astounding $300 billion went into the pockets of contractors and their employees. General Motors got the most: 8 percent of the total. What was good for America was good for General Motors, including, apparently, war. The military-industrial compact thrived once the war began.

Aided by key campaign donations, Congress has continuously facilitated spending for what might be called the military-industrial-Congressional complex, which was Ike’s speech writer’s original term.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 99 May 2, 2008


Mike Gravel on 2

Bush uses Patriot Act to gut international law

The 1917 Espionage Act was pushed through Congress by Woodrow Wilson. Wilson’s assault on liberty during WWI was in the same league with Nixon’s during Vietnam and with Bush’s during his perpetual War on Terror. Wilson feared domestic opposition to WWI would undermine the American effort, so his Act criminalized conveying information that hindered US armed forces or promoted the enemy. As a result, numerous prominent dissidents were thrown in jail, & 75 newspapers lost their privilege to use the US mail.

The Supreme Court has struck down parts of the Espionage Act over the years, but much of it remains on the books. It was just what George W. Bush needed. Under his secretive administration, the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act have given the executive unprecedented power to monitor Americans, suspend habeas corpus, and gut international law. Bush has propelled militarism and authoritarianism, long an unfortunate feature of our history, to a critically advanced stage.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 48-49 May 2, 2008

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

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Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
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