Lindsey Graham on Homeland Security
Republican Sr Senator; previously Representative (SC-3)
GRAHAM: Without national security, there is no economic security. Without the sacrifice of the veteran, all of our hopes and dreams are at risk. Hillary Clinton said that the problems with the V.A. are being exaggerated by Republicans. They are not; they are real.
Q: Gov. Jindal calls the 2015 budget deal a "phony deal, it doesn't do anything."
GRAHAM: Well, let me tell you what is real. The threat to our homeland. I've never seen so many threats to our homeland. There are more terrorist organizations with safe havens to attack the American homeland than anytime since 9/11. We're in the process of reducing our defense spending by half. I am looking at this budget with one view in mind, will it restore the ability to defend this nation. We're on track to have the smallest army since 1940, the smallest navy since 1915, this budget, if it is paid for, will put $40 billion dollars back in the defense department at a time we need it.
GRAHAM: If I believed they were trying to get a bomb, absolutely. And here's the most important thing: they know I would if I had to. None of us are going to be able to defend this country adequately until we rebuild our military. The first thing I'm going to do as commander in chief on day one is call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and say, what do you need that you don't have?
"The threat posed by ISIL is growing exponentially, and President Obama's lack of a strategy is Commander-in-Chief malpractice," Lindsey Graham said in a statement. The South Carolina senator, who chairs several Senate subcommittees related to foreign affairs, has emphasized his credentials in an attempt to stand out from his opponents. He is a vocal advocate of a more aggressive policy in the Middle East that includes sending troops to Iraq.
A supporter of calling a vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), said it accommodated privacy concerns by restricting the set of records related to terrorism investigations that the government can request from telecommunications companies, while still giving the government the powers it needed to stop terrorism.
A bill opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the bill failed to require companies to maintain telecommunications records for long enough to make investigations effective. The vote was 57 yeas to 42 nays, with 3/5 majority required to call a vote.
YEAS: Scott R-SC
NAYS: Graham R-SC
"I worried about this from day one. I'm sick to my stomach. And here is the first thing I would do if I were President of the United States: I wouldn't let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We're not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We're not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts. Killing terrorists is the only option other than capturing them, because they're not deterred by death."
The military line was "not to be taken literally," according to a Graham spokesman. But [many newspapers] covered the Graham joke as a serious proposal; [one wrote]: "If taken literally, Graham is basically announcing his plan to stage a coup."
GRAHAM: Yeah, we should be doing more. But Boko Haram doesn't represent the threat to the homeland in my view that ISIL does and Al Nusra and other groups in Syria and Iraq. But this problem is spreading throughout the world. The next stage of the fight I think is Africa. But if we could show some resolve in Syria and Iraq and reset the table and go after these guys in Syria and Iraq with success, I think it would change the landscape throughout the world. Success anywhere breeds success everywhere. Failure in any one spot hurts you everywhere. But you're right, 2,000 people were killed in one weekend in Nigeria and the world basically ignored the story.
GRAHAM: I didn't say impeachment. I said there would be a constitutional crisis. And it is coming. Senator Kelly Ayotte will introduce legislation in 2015 to put a moratorium on all releases from Guantanamo Bay because of a 30 percent recidivism rate. There are all kind of restrictions on transferring prisoners that the president is ignoring. Rather than closing Guantanamo Bay, he should be filling up the place because terrorism on the march. I, along with Senator McCain, want to outlaw water-boarding. But this president takes every terrorist, reads them the Miranda rights, gives them a lawyer, and holds them for a few days and puts them in a federal court. We can't gather intelligence. There will be one hell of a fight between the president and Republicans and Democrats in 2015 over Guantanamo Bay.
GRAHAM: In my view, Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. Elijah Cummings are doing a good job at looking at Benghazi as a whole, [alongside] DOD, the intel community, and the State Department...
Q: But yes or no?
GRAHAM: No. I think the report is full of crap, quite frankly.
GRAHAM: The question was not how you gathered intel. Who changed the talking points? It went through several changes. Who came out with the version most politically beneficial to the administration? The people who have been looking at Benghazi in a stovepipe fashion have not come up with a reasonable explanation for all the shenanigans and the lack of being prepared.
In a recent interview, Graham tied together different areas where he believes Obama has failed: "When you tell the world we're gonna find the people who killed our four Americans in Libya, including the ambassador, and you do nothing about it; whether you agree with his policy in Syria, Egypt, whether you agree with his policies, when he tells people there will be consequences, and there are none, it sets in motion exactly what you see."
Graham argued he wasn't harping on Benghazi for political reasons: "Everything I've done has been about what I think is best for the country. I think it's best to find the truth about Benghazi, when my primary's over, I'm gonna still be on Benghazi," he said.
GRAHAM: Well, my goal is to deter war. Read the report as to what's going on in North Korea. Do you think the person running North Korea is rational? It is a gulag. It is Nazi type tactics being practiced in 2014. What if the leader of North Korea woke up tomorrow and said it's time now to take the south. 440,000 members of the United States army is a gutted army. We do have a lot of technology available to our troops. Every soldier goes into battle with an array of technology and equipment not possessed in World War II. But you still need trigger pullers. So this budget by President Obama guts our defense. It is the smallest army since 1940. The smallest Navy since 1915 and the smallest air force in modern history. So if you're going to modernize your military for future conflicts, this budget will not allow you to do it.
Here's what Graham said back in June: "I'm glad the NSA is trying to find out what the terrorists are up to overseas and in our country. I'm a Verizon customer. I don't mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don't think you're talking to the terrorists. I know you're not. I know I'm not. So we don't have anything to worry about."
Graham seemingly neglected the criticisms that come with operating a surveillance program that blanket tracks the records of people not even suspected of a crime.
GRAHAM: I don't think he's a hero. I believe he hurt or nation. He compromised our national security program designed to find out what terrorists were up to. So, the freedom trail is not exactly China or Russia. I hope we'll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy.
Q: Should we put pressure on Russia to hold him there?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. They want to be part of the world community, the WTO. They want a good relationship with the United States. They should hold this felon and send him back home for justice.
Sen. McCAIN (R-AZ): As Lindsey gave you the numbers, there are disproportionate cuts to defense. Defense is 19% of the discretionary spending. It's taken 50% of the cuts.
Q: But wouldn't that be a way to start, though?
GRAHAM: Here's why it won't work. We're taking $45 billion a year out of the Defense Department over the next decade. At the end of the decade, we're going to have the smallest Navy since 1915, 232 ships. We're going to have the smallest Air Force in history; the smallest Army since 1940. Our defense spending will be below 3% of GDP. We will have a hollow force. Personnel costs are exempted from sequestration. So you take all the systems, except military pay, and over a decade, you destroy the Defense Department. There is no amount of flexibility in the world will fix this.
GRAHAM: Well, there's a six-person rescue team left Tripoli to reinforce the annex in Benghazi. They arrived at 1:30 in the morning Libyan time. And it was not until 5:00 that they could get to the annex. They were held up for three and a half hours at the airport, had a lot of bureaucratic snafus. Here's my question: Did the president ever pick up the phone and call the Libyan government and say, "Let those people out of the airport?" Secretary Clinton said she was screaming on the phone at Libyan officials. Did the president call? This was incredibly mismanaged.
"This is going to be seen as a capitulation to the Russians, who had no real basis to object to what we were doing," warned Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "And at the end of the day you empowered the Russians, you made Iran happy and you made the people in Eastern Europe wonder who we are as Americans." What was Barack Obama's response? "If the byproduct of it is that Russians feel a little less paranoid and are now willing to work more effectively with us to deal with threats like ballistic missiles from Iran or nuclear development in Iran, you know, then that's a bonus."
Despite the invaluable intelligence we were obtaining through the program of enhanced interrogation, in 2005 there was a move on Capitol Hill, led by Sen. John McCain & Lindsey Graham, to end it and require that all US government interrogations be conducted under the rules of the US Army Field Manual.
[We failed in] an effort to reach an agreement with Senator McCain and explain to him how damaging his proposed amendment would be.
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
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.
[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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Peace Action, the merger of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and The Freeze, has effectively mobilized for peace and disarmament for over forty years. As the nation's largest grassroots peace group we get results: from the 1963 treaty to ban above ground nuclear testing, to the 1996 signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, from ending the war in Vietnam, to blocking weapons sales to human rights abusing countries. We are proof that ordinary people can change the world. At Peace Action we believe...
The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This amendment would ban waterboarding at Guantanamo prison. McCain specifies several international treaties which include bans on waterboarding; and cites "regardless of physical location" to include Guantanamo. McCain cites too that this ban is nothing new; but the US has, in fact, been using waterboarding at Guantanamo.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To prohibit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under the custody or control of the United States Government.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This amendment would prohibit cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in the detention of the US Government. The amendment doesn't sound like anything new. That is because it isn't. The prohibition has been a longstanding principle in both law and policy in the United States. All of this seems to be common sense and in accordance with longstanding American values.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Proposed amendment withdrawn 11/4/2005.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: Since the start of both the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war, expenditures for those war have been voted for in "emergency supplemental spending bills," instead of in the normal defense spending bill. That implies that the expenditures are unexpectedly high, which may have been true in the early years of the war. This amendment requires regular budgeting for the Afghanistan & Iraq wars.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require regular budgeting for ongoing military operations.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote, 98-0, Vote Number: 170.
A bill to improve educational assistance for members of the Armed Forces and veterans in order to enhance recruitment and retention for the Armed Forces.
Congressional Summary: To extend and enhance limitations on the transfer or release of individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay. No amounts appropriated for any agency of the US Government may be used, for two years, to construct or modify any facility in the US, to house an individual detained at Guantanamo.
Proponents reasons for voting YEA: Rep. WALORSKI: 21 terrorists have been released just in November alone to foreign countries. This measure would repeal current law that has allowed the administration to transfer prisoners to foreign countries and reduce the population at GTMO down to 127. Detainees at GTMO pose a real threat to our national security. HR 401 would prohibit any detainee transfers to Yemen. Yemen's branch of al Qaeda was founded by former GTMO detainees. We cannot risk trusting the world's most dangerous terrorists to its most dangerous places, nor should we simply cut them loose in rich, stable countries with no security safeguards in place.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (CloseGuantanamo.org article, Jan. 2015): The prison at Guantanamo Bay has been open for 13 years. In 2009, President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year. Yet it remains open, undermining America's values and national security. Almost half of the remaining 122 prisoners--55 men in total--were cleared for release in 2010 through 2013. Some of these men were previously cleared by the Bush Administration--some as long ago as 2004. It is unacceptable that the U.S. government continues to hold men that its own national security experts have recommended for release or transfer, and that Congress has intervened to maintain this deplorable state of affairs. We call for the immediate closure of Guantanamo. Guantanamo harms our nation every day it stays open, and it continues to serve as a potent symbol for terrorist recruitment.
The resolution supports a base Defense Budget that at the very minimum matches 4% of gross domestic product:
[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:
The National Security Restoration Act:
No US troops under UN command, and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
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