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Chris Dodd on Homeland Security

Democratic Sr Senator (CT)


Strong advocate of universal national service

Q: Teenage boys must register for selective service at age 18, but not girls. Iím wondering whether this sends the right message about national service, & whether we ought to re-examine how we go about asking young people for their service to the country

A: Iím the only candidate here who has articulated a large national service program. I served in the Peace Corps back in the 1960s. I joined because an American president asked me to. He invited a generation of us to be involved in things larger than ourselves. I donít see a need for the draft. I donít believe that is necessary. But if you are going to have one I think it ought to be gender neutral. But I believe we ought to do what Maryland has done. Maryland has a requirement that every high school student commit 100 hours of public service in your community. Iíd like that to be a part of every community. So Iím a very strong advocate of universal national service--not required, but extending that invitation to people be involved.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

National security is more important than human rights

Q: What is more important, human rights or national security?

A: Obviously, national security, keeping the country safe. When you take the oath of office, you promise to do two things, and that is to protect and defend the Constitution of the US and protect our country against enemies both foreign and domestic. If there were totally free elections in many of the countries today, the Islamic Jihad or Brotherhood would win 85% of the vote. Thatís not a great outcome for us at this point either.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Nov 15, 2007

Co-sponsored ďRestoring the Constitution ActĒ to ban torture

On civil liberties, Dodd co-sponsored the ďRestoring the Constitution Act of 2007,Ē which restores Habeas Corpus rights, bars evidence gained through torture of coercion, and reinstates US adherence to the Geneva Conventions in order to protect the nationís military personnel abroad.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.173 Nov 11, 2007

Deeply troubling to legalize secret interrogation

Pres. Bush seized unprecedented war powers, deciding that the Administration alone had the authority to determine how to treat prisoners in the war on terror. He rejected domestic law and international treaties on methods of interrogation.

The president has maintained that the US is in a state of war against terrorism, and therefore has the authority to hold enemy combatants indefinitely without trial, formal charges, or revealment of evidence against them. There was no significant challenge to them until the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld reached the Supreme Court.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that the president needed the approval of Congress to pursue measures other than those expressly dictated by existing US laws and treaties. The presidentís quick response was to propose legislation that would have Congress rubber-stamp his initial practices. He demanded a free hand in interrogation--a circumstance that was deeply troubling.

Source: Letters from Nuremberg, by Chris Dodd, p. 16-17 Sep 11, 2007

Maintain Geneva Conventions; keep restrictions on torture

Q: Would you allow a presidential exception to allow torture if we captured a high-ranking Al Qaeda operative who knew about an impending attack?

A: I would disagree with that. This was all part of the Military Commissions Act which was adopted last fall. There were only a handful of us that voted against it at the time. And Iíve written legislation to overturn it. Iíll offer no better witness here than John McCain, who said that during those terrible years he was incarcerated and tortured, he would say anything to those interrogators in order to stop the physical pain. So we need to reinforce the idea here; this is a dreadful way to collect information We need to do other things to make sure it happens. But walking away from international conventions, as we did with the Geneva Conventions to disallow the restrictions on torture, I think, is a mistake, and also to walk away from habeas corpus.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Should have filibustered vote to abandon habeas corpus

Q: Where in your past didnít you tell the whole truth?

Q: Maybe one of the worst votes cast in the Congress, maybe in the last 20 years, was last fall, on the Military Commissions Act, in which we allowed the abandonment of habeas corpus, returning to torture, and abandoning the Geneva Convention. I thought about filibustering that bill, and I didnít do it. I regret that deeply. I canít think of a worse vote we cast, to walk away from the Constitution.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on ďThis WeekĒ Aug 19, 2007

Supports repealing Donít-Ask-Donít-Tell

Q: Would you support a congressional repeal of the ďDonít Ask, Donít TellĒ?

A: Support.

Q: Do you support modifying the Social Security System to pay survivor benefits to the same sex partners of gay and lesbian people?

A: Support.

Q: Do you support fair and equal tax treatment of same sex couples on the same basis as married couples?

A: Support.

Q: Do you support domestic partner coverage for gay and lesbian employees of the civilian federal workforce?

A: Support.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire Aug 9, 2007

Star Wars program is wrong priority for 21st century

Spending $12 billion every month in Iraq has got to stop if weíre going to have a different set of priorities in our country. We need to look at our defense systems and decide which defense systems we need in order to face the threats that we face in the 21st century. Looking at some of these programs out there, such as the Star Wars program--the missile defense system--I think, frankly, we need a different set of priorities.
Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

Weíre not safer than after 9/11; weíre still vulnerable

Weíre not safer today [than after 9/11] even though we have not had an attack on our own soil. Tell that to the people in Iraq, tell that to the people in Afghanistan, tell that to the people around the world.

Terrorismís a real issue. Itís going to require a collective effort on behalf our nation working with others to make a difference. Terrorism is a tactic, itís not a philosophy, and itís going to require an inordinate amount of cooperation to solve that. Having the kind of first responders at home like the firefighters and police and EMS services that have the tools and the ability to stand up and defend our country has not been funded.

While we havenít been attacked, I think weíre vulnerable today more so than we were right after 9/11.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

Opposed to draft, but advocates universal nation service

Q: Should women register for selective service when they turn 18 like men do currently?

A: Well, yes, I think they should, in a sense. Iím opposed to a draft, but I think if youíre going to have registration, it ought to be across lines so you donít just ask one gender to have the responsibility. So in my view that would be the fair thing to do. Iím an advocate of universal nation service, not by mandating it, but one of the things Iím missing in our country is the shared experience.

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

Served in National Guard; several family members in Navy

Q: How many family members do you have serving in uniform?

A: I served with the National Guard and Reserves. My brother served in the military as well. So, in my family, there have been at least two that Iím aware of. I have first cousins of mine that were submarine commanders. My uncle was a commander in World War II in the Navy. So there have been a number of people in my family.

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

Reassess military priorities and systems from the Cold War

Weíre not listening to our senior military people who tried to engage in the transformation of our military needs, recognizing that there are different threats we face today than we did during the Cold War. There needs to be a reassessment of what those priorities and systems are so that weíre strong enough. No oneís going to be elected president or ought to be president thatís not going to have as their primary priority keeping us safe and secure. That is the principal responsibility of an US president
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Stateless terrorism requires a multinational response

Q: How has this label been attached to the Democratic Party, that the Republicans will protect America best?

A: Itís a myth in the sense when you consider what this administration has done over six years, given the attacks we faced on 9/11. Our first responders are not getting the support they deserve, the administration has been resistant in supporting them; the war in Iraq, rather than dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan where our efforts should have been over the last number of years Stateless terrorism is a multinational problem. It requires a multinational response. This administration has walked away from that. The very institutions we need to build to have us effectively engage and fight back against terrorism, this administration seems to take the other track and move in another direction. We need to have leadership that knows how to build relationships to encourage that kind of participation. This administrationís done just the opposite.

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

Give troops & first responders everything they need

Whether itís Iraq or Katrina, our servicemen and women deserve a president who can say, ďI did everything--everything--in my power to ensure that those that are in harmís way had the equipment they needed to be safe.Ē A president who gives them the plan to carry out their job. A president who makes sure that those injured get the very best medical treatment when theyíre injured. That shouldnít be too much to ask of any administration. And I promise you, in my administration, it wonít be.
Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC Mar 14, 2007

Weíve known Walter Reed was disgraceful for over a year

Q: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says, ďI am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed. Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems.Ē What do you think?

A: Well, certainly, Gates is new on the job, , but this is not new. Thatís the unfortunate part. The news stories are a couple of weeks old, but these reports were coming out over a year ago. In fact, some of us offered some proposals a year ago to increase funding to deal exactly with these issues how our veterans were being treated at Walter Reed and other facilities. So the word ďdisgracefulĒ hardly describes or seems adequate in describing this. So I applaud the secretary of defenseís sense of outrage here. And moving personnel around is fine. Thatís symbolic. But weíve got to do more than that. These people deserve a lot better.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Mar 4, 2007

Transfer funds from $2B weekly in Iraq, to helping veterans

Q: Sen. Lieberman suggested he would be open to raising taxes to get more money for veterans, for troops coming home, if necessary, to make sure they get world-class treatment. Are you open to raising taxes to help the veterans?

A: You donít have to necessarily raise the taxes, just some different priorities. Weíre spending $2 billion a week in Iraq. Frankly, by redeploying those forces soon, not doing what weíre doing today here, a lot of those resources could be used to deal exactly with these veterans. You donít have to raise taxes to do that. You have to re-order our priorities.

Q: The Congress, led by the Democrats, took $3 billion out of the budget that was designated for the facilities for returning troops from Iraq and spent that money on domestic projects.

A: Thatís because the Republicans who controlled the last Congress didnít get a budget done, including the amendment that I offered for $20 billion, to deal exactly with this issue, which were rejected by the Republican majority.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Mar 4, 2007


Chris Dodd on Voting Record

Voted for 20 pay increases for the military

The idea that I would vote against pay increases for the soldiers is just unfounded. I have voted for 20 pay increases for the military, several in recent years.
Source: CT Senate Debate, in Stamford Advocate Oct 11, 2004

Voted NO on cutting $221M in benefits to Filipinos who served in WWII US Army.

Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. INOUYE. From the Spanish-American War in 1898, until the end of World War II, we exercised jurisdiction over the Philippines like a colonial power. In July 1941, we called upon the Filipinos to volunteer to serve the US under American command, and 470,000 Filipinos volunteered. An Executive Order in 1941 promised Filipinos if they fought for us, they could become citizens of the US and get all of the veterans' benefits. But in 1946, the Congress rescinded the 1941 act. Well, this veterans bill has a provision in it--a provision of honor--in which, finally, after six decades, we will restore our honor and tell the Filipinos: It is late, but please forgive us. Proponents argument for voting YEA:Sen. BURR. This bill is so much more than just a pension for Philippine veterans. It is $332 million in Philippine benefits, of which $221 million is devoted to a new special pension that does not exist [previously. Only that $221M would be cut]. Regardless of the outcome of my amendment, I support final passage of this bill. But we do have a difference as it relates to the pensions. I believe that there was not a promise made. We did not imply it. Those who made the decision on the 1946 Rescissions Act, they looked at the history very well.

Sen. CORNYN. The problem I have with this bill is that the US Treasury is not bottomless, and the funding that is being provided to create this new pension would literally be at the expense of US veterans. The $221 million that is addressed by Sen. Burr's amendment would actually go back in to supplement benefits for US veterans. And while we appreciate and honor all of our allies who fought alongside of us in WWII, certainly that doesn't mean we are going to grant pension benefits to all of our allies, [like] the British or the Australians. Vote for the Burr Amendment because certainly our American veterans should be our priority.

Reference: Burr Amendment; Bill S.Amdt. 4572 to S. 1315 ; vote number 2008-111 on Apr 24, 2008

Voted YES on requiring FISA court warrant to monitor US-to-foreign calls.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. FEINGOLD: The Protect America Act (PAA) we passed last year was sold repeatedly as a way to allow the Government to collect foreign-to-foreign communications without needing the approval of the FISA Court. Now, this is something all of us support, every one of us. But the PAA actually went much further. It authorized new sweeping intrusions into the privacy of countless Americans. The bill the Senate is considering to replace the PAA does not do nearly enough to safeguard against Government abuse. So this amendment would provide those safeguards.

[The PAA allows] acquiring all the calls and e-mails between employees of a US company and a foreign company, with no requirement to get a warrant and no requirement that there be some link to terrorism. So any American who works at a company that does business overseas should think about that.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. BOND: The purpose of this bill is, and always has been, to enable the intelligence community to act to target foreign terrorists and spies overseas.

The amendment, as it is drafted, will have a totally unexpected impact. It is difficult to explain, in an unclassified session, why this amendment is unworkable. There are only certain communications which the intelligence community is lawfully permitted to acquire, and which it has any desire to acquire, because to acquire all the communications from all foreigners is an absolutely impossible task.

I cannot describe in a public setting how they go about ascertaining which collections are important. But to say that if Osama bin Laden calls somebody in the US, we cannot listen in to that communication, unless we have an independent means of verifying it has some impact or a terrorist threat--That is the most important communication we need to intercept.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment Rejected, 38-57

Reference: Amendment to Protect America Act; Bill S.Amdt.3913 to S.2248 ; vote number 08-S012 on Feb 7, 2008

Voted NO on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad.

Vote on passage of S.1927, the Protect America Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to state that nothing under its definition of "electronic surveillance" should encompass surveillance directed at any person reasonably believed to be located outside the US.

A modified version, S.2011, failed; it called for amending FISA to provide that a court order is not required for the electronic surveillance of communication between foreign persons who are not located within the US for collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. LEVIN: Both bills cure the problem that exists: Our intelligence agencies must obtain a court order to monitor the communications of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities who are physically located in foreign countries. Now, what are the major differences? Our bill (S2011) is limited to foreign targets limited overseas, unlike the Bond bill (S1927), which does not have that key limitation and which very clearly applies to US citizens overseas. Our bill does not. Now, if there is an incidental access to US citizens, we obviously will permit that. But the Bond bill goes beyond that, citing "any person." It does not say a "foreign person." We avoid getting to the communications of Americans. There you have to go for a warrant.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: I will vote for the Bond proposal (S1927) because we are at war, & there is increased terrorist activity. We have a crisis. This proposal will allow us to gather intelligence information on that enemy we otherwise would not gather. This is not the time for striving for legislative perfection. Let us not strive for perfection. Let us put national security first. We are going to have 6 months to reason together to find something better.

Reference: Protect America Act; Bill S.1927 ; vote number 2007-309 on Aug 3, 2007

Voted YES on limiting soldiers' deployment to 12 months.

Vote on an amendment, SA2032, which amends HR1585, the Defense Authorization bill: To limit the deployment of a unit or individual of the Armed Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom to no more than 12 consecutive months; and to limit Marine Corps deployment to no more than 7 consecutive months; except in time of national emergency.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. HAGEL: The war in Iraq has pushed the US Army to the breaking point. When we deploy our military, we have an obligation to ensure that our troops are rested, ready, prepared, fully trained, and fully equipped. Today's Armed Forces are being deployed repeatedly for increasing periods of time. This is quickly wearing down the troops and their families, impacting the mental and physical health of our troops. Further, these deployments are affecting the recruiting and retention rates of the military. For example, the Army reached only a little over 80% of its recruiting goal for June. This is the second month in a row that the Army has failed to recruit the number of new soldiers needed to fill the ranks. And this is with $1 billion in large cash bonus incentives.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. KYL: Time in theater and dwell times should be a goal, rather than an absolute fixed requirement that becomes the policy of the US military determined by congressional action. By mandating a certain policy for deployment time or dwell time, the Congress is engaged in the most explicit micromanaging of what is obviously a function for the Commander in Chief and military commanders to perform. This is not something Members of Congress are knowledgeable about or would have the ability to dictate in any responsible fashion. It also would be unconstitutional. Clearly, the dwell times of troops or the amount of time in theater is an obligation of the Commander in Chief, not something for the Congress to determine.

Reference: Hagel Amendment to Defense Authorization Bill; Bill SA2032 to HR1585 ; vote number 2007-243 on Jul 11, 2007

Voted YES on implementing the 9/11 Commission report.

Vote on passage of a bill to implement unfinished recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) to fight the war on terror more effectively:

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

One of the authors of the 9/11 Commission report said, the President's announced strategy should be given a chance to succeed. That is what I think we should do, give this plan a chance to succeed. Our troops in theater, our commanders, and the Iraqi leaders all believe they can see early signs of success in this program, even though it has just begun, and they are cautiously optimistic that it can succeed. I think it would be unconscionable for the Congress, seeing the beginnings of success here, to then act in any way that would pull the rug out from under our troops and make it impossible for them to achieve their mission.

Reference: Improving America's Security Act; Bill S. 4 ; vote number 2007-073 on Mar 13, 2007

Voted YES on preserving habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.

Sen. Specter's amendment would strike the provision regarding habeas review. The underlying bill authorizes trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. Excerpts from the Senate floor debate:

Sen. GRAHAM [recommending NO]: The fundamental question for the Senate to answer when it comes to determining enemy combatant status is, Who should make that determination? Should that be a military decision or should it be a judicial decision? That is something our military should do.

Sen. SPECTER [recommending YES]: My amendment would retain the constitutional right of habeas corpus for people detained at Guantanamo. The right of habeas corpus was established in the Magna Carta in 1215 when, in England, there was action taken against King John to establish a procedure to prevent illegal detention. What the bill seeks to do is to set back basic rights by some 900 years. This amendment would strike that provision and make certain that the constitutional right of habeas corpus is maintained.

GRAHAM: Do we really want enemy prisoners to bring every lawsuit known to man against the people fighting the war and protecting us? No enemy prisoner should have access to Federal courts--a noncitizen, enemy combatant terrorist--to bring a lawsuit against those fighting on our behalf. No judge should have the ability to make a decision that has been historically reserved to the military. That does not make us safer.

SPECTER: The US Constitution states that "Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." We do not have either rebellion or invasion, so it is a little hard for me to see, as a basic principle of constitutional law, how the Congress can suspend the writ of habeas corpus.

GRAHAM: If the Supreme Court does say in the next round of legal appeals there is a constitutional right to habeas corpus by those detained at Guantanamo Bay, then Sen. Specter is absolutely right.

Reference: Specter Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.5087 to S.3930 ; vote number 2006-255 on Sep 28, 2006

Voted YES on requiring CIA reports on detainees & interrogation methods.

Amendment to provide for congressional oversight of certain Central Intelligence Agency programs. The underlying bill S. 3930 authorizes trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. The amendment requires quarterly reports describing all CIA detention facilities; the name of each detainee; their suspected activities; & each interrogation technique authorized for use and guidelines on the use of each such technique.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I question the need for a very lengthy, detailed report every 3 months. We will probably see those reports leaked to the press.

This amendment would spread out for the world--and especially for al-Qaida and its related organizations--precisely what interrogation techniques are going to be used.

If we lay out, in an unclassified version, a description of the techniques by the Attorney General, that description will be in al-Qaida and Hezbollah and all of the other terrorist organizations' playbook. They will train their assets that: This is what you must be expected to do, and Allah wants you to resist these techniques.

We are passing this bill so that we can detain people. If we catch someone like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, we have no way to hold him, no way to ask him the questions and get the information we need, because the uncertainty has brought the program to a close. It is vitally important to our security, and unfortunately this amendment would imperil it.

Reference: Rockefeller Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.5095 to S.3930 ; vote number 2006-256 on Sep 28, 2006

Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act.

This vote reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act with some modifications (amendments). Voting YEA extends the PATRIOT Act, and voting NAY would phase it out. The official summary of the bill is:
A bill to clarify that individuals who receive FISA orders can challenge nondisclosure requirements, that individuals who receive national security letters are not required to disclose the name of their attorney, that libraries are not wire or electronic communication service providers unless they provide specific services, and for other purposes.