Gary Johnson on Homeland Security

Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor


No-fly lists subject to error; use airport security instead

Q: Is it time to start thinking of gun violence as a national security issue?

JOHNSON: Keeping an open mind to this, how do you restrict guns from potential terrorists? I haven't seen or heard any proposals that would actually address this.

Q: What about the pending proposals to deny access to people on the no-fly list?

JOHNSON: Well, these government lists are subject to error. Really, do we care about no-fly lists? I mean, should it really matter when it comes to identity of anybody flying?

Q: Wait; explain that?

JOHNSON: Well, no-fly lists. I mean, security should exist at the airports, that identity really is not an issue. But why are there no-fly lists in the beginning?

Q: So it sounds like you're saying maybe we should do away with no-fly lists.

JOHNSON: Well, no, I'm not suggesting that. I'm just pointing out that they are subject to error, and ideally you'd have a system that identity would be a non-factor, that everybody gets dealt with equally and that it's safe to fly.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

Turn NSA satellites away from United States

Q: Should the government not be spying, or just that the NSA should be more limited?

JOHNSON: Well, limited, yes; I'm not saying do away with the NSA, but turn the satellites away from U.S. citizens. And there is due process, which I do not think is exemplified by gathering metadata on 110 million Verizon users.

Q: You had said it was created by executive order and you would issue one to end the NSA--

JOHNSON: I would issue one to turn the satellites away from the US.

Q: You've also said you would disrupt financing to terrorist groups--don't you need some surveillance tools to do that?

JOHNSON: I would assume so, yes. I'm not saying that the NSA gets shut down, but that the satellites should be turned against our enemies--and enemies does not mean US citizens--and that there is due process, or should be due process, for allowing that to occur here within the United States. But I don't see due process currently with regard to the NSA--that it's blanket surveillance of US citizens.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

Pardon Snowden; no one was harmed by what he released

Q: You talk about turning satellites away from the United States, what if by due process, that you find [a case where] surveillance would be necessary?

JOHNSON: Well, prior to Snowden, none of us had any idea about what this is, on an overall contextual basis.

Q: Would you pardon Snowden?

JOHNSON: Initially, when the Snowden thing happened, my concern was, "Holy cow, has information been released that are going to put U.S. spies in harm's way?" [But] Snowden took all of this into account before he released this. So, yes, I would pardon Snowden, based on what I know. But what I know is that no one has had any harm done to them as a result of what was released by Snowden.

Q: Governor Weld, do you feel the same way?

WELD: I was relieved when Gary said yes, he would pardon Snowden.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

Cut 20% of military bases in US and abroad

Q: What spending precisely would you eliminate to achieve your twin goals of cutting taxes and balancing the budget?

JOHNSON: Let's talk specifically about the Pentagon itself, which says we could reduce 20% of US bases. But none of it has happened, because members of Congress won't allow [closure of] bases that exist in their home states.

Q: How about military bases abroad?

JOHNSON: That same number would apply to military bases abroad, although I have not heard the Pentagon comment on that.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

American military interventions made terrorist problem worse

Regarding national defense, he's not as extreme as some libertarians -- some go so far as to view the rise of jihad as fundamentally America's fault -- but he does believe that American military interventions have made the terrorist problem "worse." I've often wondered how a self-defense oriented libertarian would alter American policy once they received a full and complete national-security briefing. Libertarian purists would likely be surprised at the military aggression of a libertarian president. If Johnson were ever elected, we'd get to find out.
Source: National Review, "Plausible Alternative," by David French , May 5, 2016

Brains not bombs: cut off ISIS funding

Q: Do you support intervention against ISIS?

A: Let's start with that idea: military intervention. Let's say that that's an option. That should be instigated by Congress. That's a mechanism that's been lost and Congress should modernize a mechanism for actually weighing in on military interventions. Right now, it's something that's become an executive prerogative, in conjunction with the military. Well, that's not right. The alternative is to cut funding off to ISIS to contain what's happening over there and make sure it stays over there. Brains not bombs. Cut off their funding and involve Congress for declaring war if that's what we're gonna do. If we're going to put boots on the ground that's war.

Q: So either fully go to war with Congressional approval or don't go at all?

A: Well, get Congressional approval. It would be a terrific dialogue for Congress to be having. Here are the reasons for, here are the reasons against, and see how the American public weighs in on it all.

Source: J. Wilson interview of Johnson, aLibertarianFuture.com , Apr 4, 2016

Spying on U.S. citizens dismantles the 4th Amendment

The President speaks of civil rights and those who have resisted expanding them. This from a President whose Administration continues at every turn to dismantle the 4th Amendment, spy on American citizens and plant the government in every aspect of society.
Source: Libertarian Party response to 2016 State of the Union speech , Jan 12, 2016

Founding Fathers would be disgusted about spying on citizens

When you ask Americans today what the greatest threat to their individual liberties is, far too often the response is: "The government". That is simply unacceptable in a nation that was literally founded on the notion of liberty.

Imagine the disgust of the Founding Fathers if they were to see the national government spying on citizens' private communications, monitoring financial transactions, photographing license plates, and even demanding to know what a person is doing at a public library--all without warrants or due process of law.

Decades of ever-more-intrusive government has steadily eroded personal freedom in this country. Adults are no longer free to make their own decisions, and virtually no part of Americans' private lives are today safe from government scrutiny and regulation.

Gary Johnson believes government should be truly limited--limited in the way the Founders envisioned--without unconstitutional scrutiny by the NSA, the ATF, the DEA or any other government agency.

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website GaryJohnson2016.com , Jan 11, 2016

Overturn simplistic, chaotic, reactive military policies

Looking back over the past couple of decades, it is difficult to see how the wars we have waged, the interventions we have conducted, the lives sacrificed and the trillions spent on the other side of the globe have made us safer. The chaotic, reactive military and foreign policies of the past two Presidents have, if anything, created an environment that has allowed real threats to our safety to flourish.

As President, Gary Johnson will move quickly and decisively to refocus U.S. efforts and resources to attack the real threats we face in a strategic, thoughtful way. The U.S. must get serious about cutting off the millions of dollars that are flowing into the extremists' coffers every day. Relationships with strategic allies must be repaired and reinforced. And the simplistic options of "more boots on the ground" and dropping more bombs must be replaced with strategies that will isolate and ultimately neuter those who would, if able, destroy the very liberties on which this nation is founded

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website GaryJohnson2016.com , Jan 11, 2016

Reactive military policies allow real threats to flourish

The objective of both our foreign policy and our military should be straightforward: To protect us from harm and to allow the exercise of our freedoms.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, it is difficult to see how the wars we have waged, the interventions we have conducted, the lives sacrificed and the trillions spent on the other side of the globe have made us safer. The chaotic, reactive military and foreign policies of the past two Presidents have, if anything, created an environment that has allowed real threats to our safety to flourish.

As President, Gary Johnson will move quickly and decisively to refocus U.S. efforts and resources to attack the real threats we face in a strategic, thoughtful way. The U.S. must get serious about cutting off the millions of dollars that are flowing into the extremists' coffers every day. Relationships with strategic allies must be repaired and reinforced.

Source: 2016 Presidential campaign website GaryJohnson2016.com , Jan 11, 2016

Drone strikes create more terrorists

Q: How would a Libertarian president respond to the terrorist attacks in Paris?

A: The only way a libertarian will act military is by being attacked, and we've been attacked. I oppose boots on the ground, but you can't rule out military intervention categorically.

Q: What does that mean? Drone strikes?

A: When it comes to drones, I think it makes a bad situation even worse. We end up killing innocents and fueling hatred as opposed to containing it. It just hasn't worked. We need to educate ourselves on the root causes of this, which is Islamic terrorism and the ideology of sharia law. In this country, we've become so politically correct that in the name of freedom of religion we have allowed sharia law and its adherents to advance. We need to differentiate between freedom of religion and the politics of sharia law. Freedom of religion, absolutely. But if you're talking about allowing sharia law that runs contrary to the US Constitution, that is ideologically the war that we need to take on

Source: Reason Magazine, interview by Anthony L. Fisher , Nov 19, 2015

We should not be Islamophobic, but be Shariaphobic

It is time that we have an open, honest dialogue about the politics of Sharia law. It is time that we face the reality that, while Islam is a faith that must be granted the same freedoms of religion as all others, Sharia is a political ideology that cannot coexist with the constitutional & basic human rights on which the US is founded.

We must face the fact that ISIS is a murderous, violent movement driven by Sharia ideology, not by the religion of Islam. We need not & should not be Islamophobic, but all who are free and wish to be free should be Shariaphobic. In its determination to impose a "law" upon us and to kill, maim and terrorize in the process--ISIS must be stopped.

Let's be clear. Stopping ISIS and Sharia have nothing to do with religious freedom or the rights of Muslims--here or abroad. It has everything to do with protecting people who are free or wish to be free from murderous fanatics who will stop at nothing to establish a global caliphate under which no one would be free.

Source: Press release, "ISIS is today's Nazi fascism" , Nov 19, 2015

Government transparency on 9/11 secret reports

Q: There's a 28-page secret report on 9/11, which have ben semi-declassified and only available to members of Congress. It leans in the direction of Saudi Arabia funding a lot of the 9/11 attack. There's a bipartisan effort to get in touch with their members of Congress to publicize it. Should people push for more truth on 9/11?

A: Government should be transparent, and this report is just another example of non-transparency that ultimately ends up being divulged. Look, whatever's out there, get it out there immediately. Get it out there immediately and let us all deal with it.

Source: YouTube video at 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Mar 10, 2015

Drones may create more adversaries than they eliminate

Q: What is your position on the use of drones?

Gary Johnson: Though we should leave all options on the table, drone strikes are a dangerous tool. There are unintended consequences from using them to kill targets in Pakistan and Yemen. We may get our target, but we can also create new enemies due to collateral damage. Drone strikes should be used with caution, and understanding that they may create more adversaries than they eliminate.

Source: Libertarian Party response to Third Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 22, 2012

Why were we in Benghazi or Libya at all?

Q: Why did the State Department refuse extra security for the Benghazi embassy?

Pres. OBAMA: As soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I gave my national security team three instructions:

  1. Beef up our security & procedures, not just in Libya, but at every embassy in the region.
  2. Investigate exactly what happened, to make sure it doesn't happen again.
  3. We are going to find out who did this and we're going to hunt them down.
Gov. Mitt ROMNEY: The president just said correctly that the buck does stop at his desk. There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack. And there was no demonstration involved.

Source: 3rd-party response to Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

Should we have 100,000 troops on the ground in Europe?

Focus spending cuts on "the Big 4" government programs: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Defense.

On Defense: We shouldn't have gone into Iraq and Afghanistan. But should we have 100,000 troops on the ground in Europe? Because America has been willing to be the world's policeman, other nations can afford infrastructure projects that the US cannot. That doesn't make sense. The alternative is for the US economy to slide to 3rd-world status. And the danger of a fundamental collapse is real.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p.105-106 , Aug 1, 2012

Patriot Act is a direct assault on privacy & due process

While many of our liberties are threatened by a government grown too large and too intrusive, there are some fundamental freedoms that are under particular threat. The Patriot Act, for example, is a direct assault on both privacy and the due processes of law. It should be repealed.
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p.144 , Aug 1, 2012

Torture has created millions of enemies we wouldn't have had

The attacks on September 11, 2001, were horrific. And we should be at war with al Qaeda--the transnational terrorist group which seeks to destabilize and destroy the US.

I don't believe our national security is being threatened in either Iraq or Afghanistan. I believe the torturing of individuals has created tens of millions of enemies for our country that we might not otherwise have had.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 32 , Aug 1, 2012

Cut spending by 43%, but not one penny from veteran benefits

Q: What would you do about reforming veteran's benefits?

A: I promise to submit a balanced budget, with 43% less spending in it, as an overall number. I am not going to cut pensions or benefits for veterans by a penny. When you look at the overall sacrifice that all of us are going to have to be a part of, if we're going to have a country going forward, I'm not asking veterans to sacrifice anything that they're currently receiving. Maybe there aren't any raises, but there certainly are no losses.

Source: YouTube video "Online Town Hall", transcribed by OnTheIssues , Apr 23, 2012

Let the PATRIOT Act expire; respect habeas corpus

Source: 2012 presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com , Jan 18, 2012

Due process at Guantanamo; no torture of terrorist suspects

Source: 2012 presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com , Jan 18, 2012

Allies want more US military spending, but cut by 43%

OnTheIssues indicates the 43% military cutback marked as counting towards the answer The US should always listen to other countries but it should count towards the answer The US should always act in its own interest regardless of what other countries think. The 43% cutback would be in direct opposition to what our foreign allies want. A large number of European and Asian countries are highly opposed to us removing our troops (and the money that goes with them) from their regions.
Source: Email interview on presidential race with OnTheIssues.org , Nov 15, 2011

43% reduction in military spending; cut foreign aid too

Q: [to Gingrich]: We send billions of dollars overseas to countries that hate us. Should we?

GINGRICH: I would replace virtually all government to government aid with some kind of investment approach. Our bureaucrats giving their bureaucrats money is a guaranteed step towards corruption.

Q: How do you balance foreign aid with other expenditures?

JOHNSON: I think the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we're bankrupt, so I am promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013, and included in that is a 43% reduction in military spending. I think it's crazy that we have foreign aid to countries when we're borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do that. Military alliances are really key to other countries taking up the slack.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

No physical or psychological torture of terrorist suspects

Q: You state that "no criminal or terrorist suspect captured by the US should be subject to physical or psychological torture." On what moral grounds should our government be precluded from using torture to protect our nation?

A: I just think that there's no end to that. Let's say we know there's a bomb ticking, so we have to torture this guy--that's the argument for the death penalty--but the law that gets written also is public policy which allows us to put someone who's innocent to death. The basis of our country is that we protect the innocent. Are we going to torture people to prevent nuclear briefcase bombs? It amounts to the ends justify the means.

Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog , Aug 21, 2011

Abolish the TSA; let Patriot Act expire

Q: You propose to let the Patriot Act expire, yet you have not said you would abolish the invasive TSA (Transportation Security Administration), which arguably violates the Constitutional right to travel. Why not abolish the TSA?

A: I would abolish the TSA.

Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog , Aug 21, 2011

No waterboarding under any circumstances

Q: Would you support a resumption of waterboarding under any circumstances?

SANTORUM: Under certain circumstances or any circumstances?

Q: Under any circumstances that you could imagine.


JOHNSON: I would not.

PAUL: No, I would not, because you don't achieve anything.

SANTORUM: Well it's just simply not true, Ron. The fact is that what we found is that some of this information that we find out that led to Osama Bin Laden actually came from these enhanced interrogation techniques.

PAUL: Not true.

SANTORUM: And by the way we wouldn't have been able to launch a raid into Pakistan to get Osama Bin Laden if we weren't in Afghanistan.

CAIN: I heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say it very clearly a few months after 9/11 2001 after the tragedy, the terrorist have one objective, to kill of us and so, yes, I believe that we should do whatever means possible in order to protect the people of this nation, that's their ultimate goal.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina , May 5, 2011

Deal with terrorism as a joint federal-state responsibility.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA policy HR-10: Domestic Terrorism 01-NGA5 on Feb 15, 2001

Include states in anti-terrorism planning.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The issue of terrorism will be of major focus for the 107th Congress. Governors have a critical interest in controlling domestic terrorism because they are responsible for ensuring that state and local authorities have the ability to deal with natural disasters and other types of major emergencies, including terrorist incidents.

NGA’s Position

NGA believes that any national strategy for dealing with terrorist incidents should include planning and training by state and local forces. The unique nature of terrorism coupled with national security implications requires the support and expertise of the federal government in working with state and local government in developing capabilities. A clear national strategy developed through a partnership among federal agencies and key state, local, and private sector stakeholders is essential to drive operational and programmatic planning, training, and service delivery in combating terrorism.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA7 on Sep 14, 2001

Study terrorist threats against nuclear waste repositories.

Johnson signed the Western Governors' Association resolution:

  1. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should reexamine the issue of terrorism and sabotage against spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste shipments in order to determine the adequacy of the current physical protection regulations, as part of the NRC licensing process for a geologic repository or an interim storage facility.
  2. The NRC should conduct a comprehensive assessment of the consequences of attacks that have the potential for radiological sabotage, including attacks against transportation infrastructure used by nuclear waste shipments, attacks involving capture of a nuclear waste shipment and use of high energy explosives against the cask, and direct attacks upon a nuclear waste shipping cask using antitank missiles.
  3. The NRC should conduct the comprehensive reassessment of terrorism/sabotage consequences in a forum conducive to meaningful participation by all affected stakeholders, including the creation of a stakeholder advisory group to assist the NRC in this task.
  4. DOE should also fully evaluate the impacts of terrorism and sabotage against spent fuel and nuclear waste shipments in the Yucca Mountain and in any interim storage facility.
  5. DOE should incorporate terrorism/sabotage risk management and countermeasures in all DOE transportation plans relating to operation of a repository, interim storage facility, and/or intermodal transfer facility, including liability for costs and damages resulting from terrorism/sabotage against nuclear waste shipments.
  6. DOE is encouraged to expeditiously complete the Department’s guidance process for codifying the “Transportation Protocol Manual,” [with] review with the participating states and tribes prior to formal adoption.
  7. The governors encourage NRC, DOT and DOE to use the “Transportation Protocol Manual” as the beginning point for requirements for the transport of both federal and commercial radioactive materials.
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01-03: Terrorism Against Nuclear Waste 01-WGA03 on Aug 14, 2001

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