Bernie Sanders on Homeland Security

Socialist Jr Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)


Rid our planet of this barbarous organization called ISIS

Q: Your thoughts about the ISIS attacks in Paris?

SANDERS: Together, leading the world, this country will rid our planet of this barbarous organization called ISIS.

O'MALLEY: ISIS, make no mistake about it, is an evil in this world.

Q [to Clinton]: Was ISIS underestimated? In 2014, the president referred to ISIS as the "J.V."

CLINTON: ISIS has developed [since 2014]. I think that there are many other reasons why it has in addition to what happened in the region, but I don't think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility. I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself.

SANDERS: She said the bulk of the responsibility is not ours. Well, in fact, I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and to ISIS.

Source: 2015 CBS Democratic primary debate in Iowa , Nov 14, 2015

We spend billions on nuclear weapons & only 10% on terrorism

Sen. SANDERS: This nation is the most powerful military in the world. We're spending over $600 billion a year on the military and yet, significantly less than 10% of that money is used to be fighting international terrorism. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars maintaining 5,000 nuclear weapons. I think we need major reform in the military, making it more cost effective, but also focusing on the real crisis that faces us. The Cold War is over. And our focus has got to be on intelligence, increased manpower, fighting international targets.

Gov. O'MALLEY: The nature of warfare has changed. This is a new era of conflict where traditional ways of huge standing armies do not serve our purposes as well as special ops & better intelligence.

Secretary CLINTON: We do have to take a hard look at the defense budget and we do have to figure out how we get ready to fight the adversaries of the future, not the past. But we have to also be very clear that we do have some continuing challenges.

Source: 2015 CBS Democratic primary debate in Iowa , Nov 14, 2015

I opposed Vietnam as conscientious objector

Q [to WEBB]: You served in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the man standing next to you, Senator Sanders, applied for status as a conscientious objector.

WEBB: As long as they go through the legal process that our country requires, I respect that.

Q [to SANDERS]: Tell an American soldier why you can be commander-in- chief given that you applied for conscientious objector status.

SANDERS: When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam. Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war. That was my view then. I am not a pacifist. I supported the war in Afghanistan. I supported President Clinton's effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do. Yes, I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort that we have got to exercise diplomacy. But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Shut down the NSA surveillance program

Q: You're the only one on this stage who voted against the Patriot Act in 2001 and the reauthorization votes. Would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Of course.

Q: You would, point blank.

SANDERS: Well, what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me. But it's not just government surveillance. I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well. If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Snowden showed us our civil rights are being undermined

Q: Is Edward Snowden [the federal employee who released thousands of NSA documents] a traitor or a hero?

CHAFEE: The courts have ruled that what he did was say the American government was acting illegally.

CLINTON: He broke the laws of the United States.

O'MALLEY: Snowden put a lot of Americans' lives at risk.

Q: Senator Sanders, on Edward Snowden?

SANDERS: I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.

Q: Is he a hero?

SANDERS: He did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that. But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is [sentenced].

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

PATRIOT Act was 99-1, and I was the one

Q: You and Hillary Clinton both voted for the Patriot Act which created the NSA surveillance program. You've emphasized civil liberties, privacy during your campaign. Aren't these two things in conflict?

CHAFEE: No, that was a 99-to-1 vote for the PATRIOT Act, and it was seen as modernizing our ability to tap phones which always required a warrant.

Q: Do you regret that vote?

CHAFEE: As long as you're getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance. And in the Patriot Act, section 215 started to get broadened too far. So I would be in favor of addressing and reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Q: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: No, I don't. I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 9/11 to put in place the security that we needed.

SANDERS: It was 99 to one and I was maybe the one. [Note: See related FactCheck--he was not the one!]

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

I pushed bill for $15B for veterans' healthcare services

What we did is pass a $15 billion dollar piece of legislation which brought in many new doctors and nurses into the V.A. so that veterans could get health care when they needed it, and not be on long waiting lines. The other part of that legislation said that if a veteran is living more than 40 miles away from a V.A. facility, that veteran could get health care from the community health center or the private sector.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Continue using drones and special forces

Q: What does counterterrorism look like in a Sanders administration? Drones? Special Forces, or what does it look like?

SANDERS: All of that and more.

Q: You're okay with the drone?

SANDERS: A drone is a weapon. When it works badly, it is terrible and it is counterproductive.

Q: But you're comfortable with the idea of using drones if you think you've isolated an important terrorist? That continues?

SANDERS: Yes. And look, we all know, that there are people as of this moment plotting against the United States. We have got to be vigorous in protecting our country, no question about it.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interview moderated by Chuck Todd , Oct 11, 2015

NSA is unconstitutionally out of control

Q: What actions has Bernie taken to limit mass surveillance and reign in the NSA?