Lincoln Chafee on Homeland Security

Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)


PATRIOT Act was 99-1, including me, but reform it now

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 at the time modernizing our ability to do what we've always done to tap phones which always required a warrant. And I voted for that.

Q: Do you regret that vote?

CHAFEE: No, no. As long as you're getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance, but you need a warrant. That's what the Fourth Amendment says. 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, do you regret your vote on the Patriot Act?

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.

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

Bring home Snowden; he showed government illegalities

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

CHAFEE: No, I would bring him home. The courts have ruled that what he did was say the American government was acting illegally.

Q: Bring him home, no jail time?

CHAFEE: What Snowden did showed that the American government was acting illegally for the 4th Amendment. So I would bring him home.

CLINTON: He broke the laws of the US.

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

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

Limit government surveillance; no bulk data collection

Chafee would give government limited surveillance powers, and says that bulk data collection violates the Constitution.

While in Congress, Chafee voted for the USA Patriot Act and its expansion of government surveillance powers in the fight against terror. Since then Chafee has said he strongly opposes the use of the Patriot Act by the National Security Agency to collect Americans' phone data en masse. The Rhode Islander argues that violates the Fourth Amendment and law enforcement must get a warrant before collecting any phone data.

Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Jun 3, 2015

Rebuild alliances abroad to fight ISIS

Chafee says the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake; and that to fight Islamic State, the U.S. must build alliances, including with Russia.

Chafee told MSNBC in April that to fight Islamic State, America must forge stronger alliances and rebuild its relationship with Russia. The former governor opposes open-ended U.S. military action and supports contained strategies, citing the 1990 Gulf War as an example.

Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Jun 3, 2015

Know your enemy: Al Qaeda wants US troops away from Mecca

On September 16, the president announced that "this crusade, the war on terrorism, is going to take a while." Bush cited passionately, "I will not forget this wound. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent."

I felt differently. We needed to find and destroy this small band of international criminals, disarm their propaganda machine, and use hard-nosed police work to prevent future attacks.

He said, "Americans are asking why do they hate us? They hate our freedoms. Our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote." He had not invested 10 seconds in the central admonition of Sun-tzu: Know your enemy. He said not a word to address the presence of American troops near Mecca and Medina, or the Palestinian question, or sanctions against Iraq,

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 72-74 , Apr 1, 2008

False WMD fear hurt efforts at nuclear nonproliferation

The "clashists" who had come to power and were now setting American foreign policy were out to satisfy their ideology's strong appetite for war and conflict. They were quick to seize on September 11 as its latest rationale for regime change in Iraq. The extremists working on the Project for a New American Century had been itching to invade Iraq ever since President George H. W. Bush declared victory in Desert Storm without marching on Baghdad.

As early as 1998, the New American Century was using the catchphrase "weapons of mass destruction" to take us down a very hazardous path. Of course, the real weapon of mass destruction is nuclear; but by whipping up fear over nonexistent chemical and biological weapons the Bush administration has actually harmed international efforts at nuclear nonproliferation. With an extremist White House in power today, we have many unstable, hostile regimes springing to acquire nuclear weapons.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 82-85 , Apr 1, 2008

Replace unilateral pre-emption with Mideast alliances

Q: If you were President of the United States right now, what would be your strategy in the Middle East?

CHAFEE: We have a lot of difficulties with our policy of unilateral pre-emption - where unilateral means one-sided. Our best policy now should be working with our allies and gaining more allies in the Mideast, instead of alienating some of the friends weíve had. We need everybody on our side as we wrestle with the difficulties in the Middle East -- in Iraq in particular, and in those countries that surround Iraq - Turkey, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

WHITEHOUSE: There is a broader Middle East problem that has been made worse by our presence in Iraq. In those fronts, we need to strongly defend Israel. We need to do what we can to eliminate the terror capability of Hezbollah.

Source: 2006 RI Senate debate, by RIBA and WPRI-12 , Sep 13, 2006

Keep Rhode Island's military installations thriving

Iíve worked hard in the Senate to make sure Rhode Islandís military installations are thriving and itís something called the base realignment and closure process that comes along every five or so years. Itís always a big threat because you donít want to lose your military bases. But in this process, Rhode Island gained. One of the few areas to gain employment because of the hard work we did at building up these military installations, investing in them over the years.
Source: 2006 R.I. Republican Senate Primary debate on WPRI , Aug 24, 2006

Supports more spending on Armed Forces personnel

Iím pleased with the overall direction of President Clintonís defense budget request. The President has requested $300 billion for the FY 2001 defense budget, a $12 billion increase over current funding. As the first inflation-adjusted defense spending increase in over a decade, it is a wise investment in our national security.

The funding for Newport, NUWC, Electric Boat, and Raytheon represent an important investment in Rhode Islandís defense industry.

Source: Press Release, ďinvestment in our national securityĒ, Feb. 7 , Sep 19, 2000

Decrease funding for missile defense

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 1, 2000

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.
Reference: USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments; Bill S. 2271 ; vote number 2006-025 on Mar 1, 2006

Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision.

Vote to invoke cloture on a conference report that extends the authority of the FBI to conduct "roving wiretaps" and access business records. Voting YES would recommend, in effect, that the PATRIOT Act be extended through December 31, 2009, and would makes the provisions of the PATRIOT Act permanent. Voting NO would extend debate further, which would have the effect of NOT extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision.
Reference: Motion for Cloture of PATRIOT Act; Bill HR 3199 ; vote number 2005-358 on Dec 16, 2005

Voted NO on restricting business with entities linked to terrorism.

Vote to adopt an amendment that makes US businesses and their subsidiaries liable to prosecution for dealing with foreign businesses which have links to terrorism or whose parent country supports terrorism. Voting YES would:
Reference: Stop Business with Terrorists Act of 2005; Bill S AMDT 1351 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-203 on Jul 26, 2005

Voted YES on restoring $565M for states' and ports' first responders.

Amendment intended to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by restoring $565 million in cuts to vital first-responder programs in the Department of Homeland Security, including the State Homeland Security Grant program, by providing $150 million for port security grants and by providing $140 million for 1,000 new border patrol agents.
Reference: State Homeland Security Grant Program Amendment; Bill S AMDT 220 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-64 on Mar 17, 2005

Rated 40% by SANE, indicating a mixed record on military issues.

Chafee scores 40% by SANE on peace issues

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...

As the Pentagonís budget soars to $400 billion, 17% of American children live in poverty. For what the US will spend on Missile Defense in one year we could: put over a million children through Head Start OR provide healthcare for over 3.5 million children OR create over 100,000 units of affordable housing OR hire over 160,000 elementary school teachers. At Peace Action our priorities are clear.

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.

Source: SANE website 03n-SANE on Dec 31, 2003

Prohibit torture of terrorists in US custody.

Chafee co-sponsored prohibiting torture of terrorists in US custody

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.