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Mitt Romney on Homeland Security

Former Republican Governor (MA)


Raise military spending to 4% of our GDP

To battle the threat of radical Jihadists, we have sent the most courageous and brave soldiers in the world. But their numbers have been depleted by the Clinton years when troops were reduced by 500,000, when 80 ships were retired from the Navy, and when our human intelligence was slashed by 25%. We were told that we were getting a peace dividend. We got the dividend, but we didn’t get the peace. In the face of evil in radical Jihad and given the inevitable military ambitions of China, we must act to rebuild our military might--raise military spending to 4% of our GDP, purchase the most modern armament, re-shape our fighting forces for the asymmetric demands we now face, and give the veterans the care they deserve.
Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference Feb 7, 2008

Add 100,000 to the military without a draft

Q: How do you increase the size of the military without a draft?

A: I’m recommending that we add 100,000 active-duty personnel to our military. We’re right now at about 1.5 million. Take that up to about 1.6 million. We found in our state that we were losing enrollees for the National Guard at about 6% per year. And the legislature and I got together and passed something called the Welcome Home Bill. We said if you’ll sign up for the National Guard, we’ll pay for your entire education for four years. We put in some other benefits as well--life insurance and other features that we decided to pay for. The result of that was, the next year enrollments went up 30%. So if we want more people to sign up for the military, we have to improve the deal. Our GI Bill has gotten a little old. We need to update our funding level for that, so that young people who go into the military get a full ride as they come home and get to go into college.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida Jan 24, 2008

Best to not say whether waterboarding is torture or not

Q: In one of your recent debates, you refused to say whether waterboarding was torture. The director of national intelligence said flatly: “Whether it is torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.” I wonder if that would influence you to conclude that waterboarding is torture, because you and McCain debated on that. McCain came down very, very firmly, saying waterboarding is torture.

A: You know, I just don’t think it’s productive for presidents to lay out a list of what is specifically referred to as torture. One of the reasons is that that term is used in the Geneva accord. And once you lay that list out, you are forever prohibiting the US from ever employing that technique, even in a circumstance where a city might be subject to a potential nuclear attack. And so we have found it wise, in the past, not to describe precisely the techniques of interrogation that are used here; also, so that people who are captured don’t know what might be used against them.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 13, 2008

Not wise for us to describe our interrogation techniques

Q: Considering that Mr. McCain is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject of waterboarding, how can those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position against torture?

A: I do not believe that as a presidential candidate, it is wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating people. I want to make sure these folks are kept at Guantanamo. I don’t want the people that are carrying out attacks on this country to be brought into our jail system and be given legal representation in this country. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went to Guantanamo and he met G.I.s and CIA interrogators. And that’s just exactly how it ought to be.

Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida Nov 28, 2007

Lawyers are the last people to ask about war decisions

Q: [to McCain]:You didn’t think much of the answer of Gov. Romney in the last debate, when he said that he would ask his lawyers whether he needed congressional authorization to use military force against Iran. Why not?

MCCAIN: Because I don’t think that’s the time to call in the lawyers, when we’re in a national security crisis. Those are the last people I’d call in. I’d call in my wisdom, my knowledge, my background, my experience, and my ability to lead this nation.

ROMNEY: I want to make one thing very, very clear, and that is if there were ever a question of a security threat to this country, I would act immediately to protect the interests of America and our citizens. No question about that. But every president has of course met with White House counsel and they have written opinions about the involvement of Congress. The decision to take our men and women to war is the most grave decision and I would do that on a very deliberate and careful basis, not a half-cocked basis.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida Oct 21, 2007

FactCheck: Bush cut military budget as much as Bill Clinton

Romney falsely blamed Bill Clinton for the entire post-Cold War reduction in US military forces. Romney said, “During the Clinton years, we reduced the scale of our military dramatically, took 500,000 troops out, cut back our Navy by 80 ships, knocked our Air Force down 25%.”

Romney has tried this bit before. In fact, we’ve called him on it once already: that in inflation-adjusted dollars, defense spending dropped nearly 15% between Reagan’s last budget and the final budget of George H.W. Bush four years later--compared with just under 13% between Bush’s last budget and Clinton’s, a span of eight years. Bush’s defense secretary, a guy named Dick Cheney, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1992 that “overall, since I’ve been secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion. That’s the peace dividend. And now we’re adding to that another $50 billion.”

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando Oct 21, 2007

Apologized for comparing public service to military service

Q: I don’t think you fully understand how offended my wife and I were, and probably the rest of the people who have sons, daughters, husbands and wives serving in the war on terror to compare your son’s attempts to get you elected to my son’s service in Iraq. I know you apologized a couple of days later after a firestorm started, but it was wrong, and you never should have said it.

A: Well, there is no comparison, of course. There’s no question but that the honor that we have for men and women who serve in our armed forces is a place of honor we will never forget and nothing compares to it. People who are willing to put their life on the line for American freedom are in a league of their own, and we owe them our respect. And the sacrifice they make is something we’ll never forget.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

Wiretap mosques to keep tabs on Islamic extremists

Q: You had said that the government should wiretap some mosques to keep tabs on Islamic extremists. Even without a judge’s approval?

A: No, of course not. But use the law to follow people who are teaching doctrines of terror & hate, and make sure that if they’re doing that in a mosque, in a school, in a playground, wherever it’s being done, we know what’s going on. There’s no question but that we’re under threat from people who want to attack our country in this global effort. We need to know about that, track them, follow them, and make sure that in every way we can, we know what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. And if it means we have to go into a mosque to wiretap or a church, then that’s exactly where we’re going to go. I hear from time to time people say, hey, wait a second. We have civil liberties we have to worry about. But don’t forget, the most important civil liberty I expect from my government is my right to be kept alive, & that’s what we’re going to have to do.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

Sharply increase military investment to face radical jihad

Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p.109-10 Aug 31, 2007

Global military & non-military effort to defeat jihad

I want to bring in a real strong team of people who have very different backgrounds, a lot from the private sector, and I want to take on a whole series of efforts. One is not just to win the peace in Iraq & in Afghanistan, but I’d like to take on an effort globally to defeat jihad which is military in scope but also non-military, that combines our non-military resources with those of other nations to help move the word of Islam toward modernity and help the Muslims themselves reject the extreme.
Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews Aug 12, 2007

Don’t weaken Musharraf; we need ally against Bin Laden

Q: Sen. Obama said that if we had actionable intelligence on high-level terrorist targets in Pakistan and Pres. Musharraf wouldn’t act, that we will. You said that Obama had gone from being Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in a week. But in that situation, what would you do?

A: When you’re running for president, you have to think about the question and the answer, but you also have to think about the implications of what you’re saying around the world. And Pakistan is a tinderbox. And of course, America keeps its options open to do what we think is in our best interest. But in a place like Pakistan, you make sure that you don’t say things that could be misinterpreted and misused. And that was what his error was. Of course, if we receive actionable intelligence about bin Laden, we will take appropriate action, but we don’t describe exactly what that might mean. We have an ally there, Musharraf. We don’t want in any way to try & weaken him in a very difficult situation, and that was Obama’s mistake.

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews Aug 12, 2007

Double Guantanamo, to avoid terrorist access to lawyers

Q: Let’s say terrorists mounted 3 successful suicide attacks in the US, and a 4th attack was averted and the terrorists captured & held at Guantanamo.

A: The key in electing the next president is to find somebody who will make sure that that scenario doesn’t ever happen, & the key to that is prevention. We’ve all spent a lot of time talking about what happens after the bomb goes off. The real question is, how do you prevent the bomb from going off? That means intelligence & counterterrorism.

Q: How aggressively would you interrogate those being held?

A: I’m glad they’re at Guantanamo. I don’t want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons. I want them there. Some people have said, we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo. And enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used -- not torture but enhanced interrogation techniques, yes.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina May 15, 2007

Eligible for draft in 1969; regrets not having served

Mitt Romney didn’t go to Vietnam. I asked him about this. “I respect enormously the people who do serve our country,” he began. “There are only two things that Ann and I both agree that we regret. One is not having served in the military, and the other is not having had more kids.”

“In my life at that time I didn’t get drafted,” he continued. “I was eligible for the draft. I would have served in the military if drafted, but I wasn’t drafted. My course was a different course, and perhaps because of the fact that I did not serve in the military I have a strong sense of a desire to serve in the public sector today.

“There is no question,” Romney concluded. “Those that served we owe a great debt of gratitude to.” Romney had a combination of deferments--a religious deferment covered his 2-1/2 years of missionary work in France, and then college deferment applied. Then most deferments were sacked in favor of a lottery, which in 1969 awarded Romney’s March 12 birthday the number 300.

Source: A Mormon in the White House, by Hugh Hewitt, p.198-199 Mar 12, 2007

Stronger America is less likely to have to fight

I asked Romney if he had considered what presidents are sometimes called to do, which is order attacks that kill lots of people. Romney replied, “America must remain the world’s economic and military superpower, and the best friend peace has is a strong America. You can’t be strong if you’re never willing to exercise that strength and show that strength. A 150-pound kid has to get in a lot of fights. A 250-pound kid covered with muscles who knows judo rarely has to fight.”

“If you have a strong enough military, no one will test you, and I think one of the reasons we face the challenges we do and we’re being tested on so many fronts is that people see we haven’t done a great job in the post-major conflict period in Iraq,“ he continued. ”We’ve been tested and have been found a little wanting. I think we need to be stronger. I don’t shrink at all from the need to protect this country and our sovereignty and our pre-eminence in the world.“

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.190-191 Mar 12, 2007

FBI wiretaps and spying on immigrants OK

On the War on Terror: In September 2005, he suggested that the FBI wiretap mosques and spy on new Muslim immigrants.
Source: CivilLiberty.about.com profile of Romney Dec 1, 2006

Use both military & diplomatic actions to defeat Jihadists

To remain the economic and military superpower, America must address defeating the Jihadists. The defeat of this radical and violent faction of Islam must be achieved through a combination of American resolve, international effort, and the rejection of violence by moderate, modern, mainstream Muslims. An effective strategy will involve both military and diplomatic actions to support modern Muslim nations. America must help lead a broad-based international coalition.
Source: PAC website, www.TheCommonwealthPac.com, “Meet Mitt” Dec 1, 2006

Jihadists attack to destroy all moderate governments

PAUL: [to ROMNEY]: I’m as concerned about the nature of the threat of terrorism as anybody, if not more so. But they don’t attack us because we’re free and prosperous. There are radicals in all religions that will resort to violence. But if we don’t understand that the reaction is because we invade their countries and occupy their countries, because we have bases in their country--and we haven’t done it just since 9/11, but we have done that a long time. It was the Air Force base in Saudi Arabia before 9/11 that was given as the excuse. If we don’t understand that, we can’t win this war against terrorism.

ROMNEY: Unfortunately, Ron, you need a thorough understanding of what radical jihad is, what the movement is, what its intent is, where it flows from. And the fact is that it’s trying to bring down not just us, but it’s trying to bring down all moderate Islamic governments, Western governments around the world, as we just saw in Pakistan.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

We need at least 100,000 more troops in our military

GIULIANI: [to Romney]: We should increase the size of our military. Bill Clinton cut the military drastically. It was called the peace dividend, one of those nice-sounding phrases: very devastating. It was a 25% or 30% cut in the military. President Bush has never made up for that. Our Army had been at 725,000; it’s down to 500,000. We need at least 10 more combat brigades. We need our Marines at 200,000. We need a 300-ship Navy. This president should do it now. If I’m president, I’ll do it immediately.

ROMNEY: I agree with what the mayor said--we need to add to our military by at least 100,000 troops. But we’re going to have to move our strategy from simply being a response to military threat with military action, to an effort that says we’re going to use our military and nonmilitary resources. The answer is to move now to a second phase, a phase of helping Muslims become so strong they can reject the extreme.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Islamic terror has nothing to do with US policy of bases

PAUL: [to ROMNEY]: Try to visualize how we would react if they did that to us, if a country, say China, came that great distance across the ocean, and they say, “We want you to live like us. We want you to have our economic system. We want bases on your land. We want to protect our oil.” Even if we do that with good intentions--even if the Chinese did that with good intentions, we would all be furious.

ROMNEY: Ron, you’re reading their propaganda.

PAUL: What would you do?

ROMNEY: I’d read what they write to one another. Sayyid Qutb lays out the philosophy of radical jihadism and says, “We want to kill Anwar Sadat,” and when there’s the assassination of Anwar Sadat, it has nothing to do with us. Why did they kill Madam Bhutto? It has nothing to do with us. This has to do with a battle that is going on within the world of Islam, of radical, violent jihadists trying to bring down all moderate Islamic people and nations and replace them with a religious caliphate.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

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

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010