Issue Tracker

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

The Candidates on Homeland Security

September 29, 2008

Share

Issue Trackers trace the positions of candidates from the 2008 presidential campaign on major issues related to foreign policy.

Homeland security, a term brought to the fore by Congress and the Bush administration after 9/11, cuts across a number of significant issues from immigration to disaster recovery. It is likely to generate considerable discussion in the 2008 presidential election on topics such as the USA Patriot Act, border fences, a national ID, and FEMA reforms after Hurricane Katrina. A number of candidates have played leading role in seeking to revise the way the Department of Homeland Security allocates anti-terror funds.

Democratic Ticket on Homeland Security

Barack Obama
Democratic Party Nominee - President

President Obama says the United States is "safer in many ways" since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "Obviously, we've poured billions of dollars into airport security. We have done some work in terms of securing potential targets, but we still have a long way to go," Obama said in a September 2008 presidential debate. He said the United States still needs to tighten security on the transportation system, at ports and at chemical sites. Obama, who sits on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has been a critic of how federal homeland security funding has been handled. He has also been critical of the Patriot Act, but he voted to adopt a conference report to reauthorize it in 2006.

Obama was critical of the government's "passive indifference" toward the crisis Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005. Obama says he will ensure that FEMA funding and resources "reach the communities that need it." He says he will boost the federal rebuilding coordinator to report directly to him "so that rebuilding remains a national priority." He plans to restore the Gulf Coast region's wetlands (PDF) and says he will "immediately" close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet" to prevent floodwater from funneling into New Orleans.

Obama cosponsored the SAFE Act of 2005, which never reached a vote.

In February 2007, Obama cosponsored the Risk-Based Homeland Security Grants Act.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Democratic Party Nominee - Vice President

Biden, who sits on the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, has said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has inadequately responded to the country's security challenges. If elected president, he says he would create a Homeland Security and Public Safety Trust Fund "to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and invest in law enforcement." He wants an additional $10 billion a year for the next five years to be allocated to homeland security, raised by increasing taxes on the very wealthy. This would be used to fund the hiring of an additional 1,000 FBI agents and 50,000 police officers, among other items.

In 2006, Biden voted against making FEMA independent from the DHS. In August 2008, Biden announced the allocation of over $6.1 billion in DHS funding for the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. The grant "will boost ongoing homeland security preparedness initiatives here in Delaware," Biden said.

Biden voted in favor of the USA Patriot Act in 2001 and voted to adopt a conference report to reauthorize it in 2006. In 2005, Biden voted for the Homeland Security Grant Program Amendment, which restored $565 million in cuts to first-responder programs. That amendment passed. He also voted for the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, which would create a National Intelligence Authority (NIA) that would serve to facilitate U.S. intelligence activity. That act would also create a National Counterterrorism Center.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Republican Ticket on Homeland Security

John McCain
Republican Party Nominee - President

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has generally supported the Bush administration's homeland security initiatives. McCain voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001 and for its reauthorization in 2006. McCain voted in favor of the Homeland Security Department FY 2006 Appropriations Act, which allotted $34.55 billion for DHS. McCain has been a leading Republican voice in Washington seeking to ban the CIA from engaging in "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners." McCain, who was tortured himself during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, pushed an amendment in 2005 banning such treatment. That bill passed after extensive debate in Washington. Still, in February 2008, McCain voted against (NYT) an amendment that would have dictated an interrogation standard for the CIA based on the Army Field Manual. McCain also voted for the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

McCain criticized the Bush administration's 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina. In April 2008, McCain said that unlike President Bush, he would have "landed my airplane at the nearest Air Force base and come over personally" (Reuters) immediately after the storm.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Sarah Palin
Republican Party Nominee - Vice President

Gov. Sarah Palin's views on general U.S. homeland security policy were not immediately known. As governor of Alaska, Palin oversees her state's homeland security operations and has command of the Alaska National Guard on homeland security matters and in natural disasters. Palin has supervision of military units whose responsibilities include manning elements of the U.S. missile defense system at Fort Greely, although operations of the missile interceptors at the fort come under the U.S. military chain of command (LAT).

Major General Craig E. Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, has said Palin's primary responsibility in this area has been in recruiting new guard volunteers (BosGlobe). As governor, she called up the National Guard to handle wildfires in 2007, and in September 2008, Palin ordered the Alaska National Guard to deliver a planeload of supplies to Gulf Coast area victims of Hurricane Gustav.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Democratic Primary Candidates on Homeland Security

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Democratic Primary Candidate

Since the 9/11 attacks, Sen. Clinton (D-NY) has repeatedly pressed for higher homeland security funding for anti-terror assistance for her state of New York and other “areas at greatest risk of attack.” In February 2008, Clinton praised the Department of Homeland Security's allocation of $151.2 million for the Transit Security Program for New York. She said she hoped the increase in that funding by 50 percent was a sign that DHS and the Bush administration recognize "the threat that the New York City region continues to face and the incredible strain they impose on our law enforcement agencies and first responders who must maintain constant vigilance."

In February 2007, Clinton cosponsored the Risk-Based Homeland Security Grants Act of 2007, which, if passed, will amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002, establishing a Homeland Security Grants Board and would ensure that Homeland Security funding is distributed based on risk level and vulnerability of states.

Clinton cosponsored the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in 2004, which created a Director of National Intelligence and provided for increased security on the northern border of the United States and increased transportation infrastructure security. In 2006, Clinton cosponsored the FEMA Amendment, which would have made the Federal Emergency Management Agency independent from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That bill was rejected. Clinton voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001 and voted to adopt a conference report to reauthorize it in 2006.

Editor's Note: Sen. Clinton withdrew her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on June 7, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Christopher J. Dodd
Democratic Primary Candidate

Sen. Dodd (D-CT) has backed homeland security reforms on several occasions. He voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001 and voted to adopt the conference report to reauthorize it in 2006, but he also cosponsored the 2005 SAFE (Security and Freedom Enhancement) Act, which would have amended the Patriot Act to include limitations on wiretapping. That bill did not pass. Dodd voted to make FEMA independent from the DHS in a 2006 bill. He also voted for the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

Editor's Note: Sen. Dodd withdrew his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on January 3, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

John Edwards
Democratic Primary Candidate

Edwards’ plan for homeland security focuses on tightening border security, improving emergency response plans, and better protecting potential terrorist targets. Edwards’ homeland security strategy includes increased cargo screening at airports and seaports, added border patrol officers, and an “improved” emergency warning communications system.

Edwards advocates increased research into security strategies for likely terrorist targets like skyscrapers and arenas. In improving emergency response nationwide, Edwards says that he would “strengthen the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Fire Fighters Act,” which allocates FEMA funding to bolster the number of frontline firefighters. Edwards voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001. During a debate in the 2004 presidential campaign, Edwards said that he and running mate Senator John Kerry (D-MA) were “committed to immediately implementing all of the reforms suggested by the 9/11 Commission."

Editor's note: Edwards dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination on January 30, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Dennis Kucinich
Democratic Primary Candidate

Kucinich has voted against most of the major homeland security laws passed in Congress. Most notably, Kucinich has been a vocal critic of the Patriot Act since its creation. In 2001, Kucinich voted against the act, which he says, “poses an unprecedented threat to Americans' individual freedoms and is a violation of our civil liberties.” Kucinich voted against the Real ID Act of 2005. He also voted against the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which established the Department of Homeland Security. However, he voted for the 2006 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Authorization Act. Kucinich voted against the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act in 2004. That bill passed the House but was not voted on in the Senate.

Editor's Note: Rep. Kucinich withdrew his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on January 25, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Bill Richardson
Democratic Primary Candidate

As governor, Richardson ordered the creation of the New Mexico Office of Homeland Security in 2003. The Christian Science Monitor in 2006 quoted Richardson as saying he would reallocate funds from the Iraq war to homeland security, especially for protecting U.S. subways and air transportation. Richardson has also said that he believes FEMA should not be housed under the DHS.

Editor's Note: Richardson withdrew his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on January 10, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Republican Primary Candidates on Homeland Security

Sam Brownback
Republican Primary Candidate

Brownback has generally backed the Bush administration’s homeland security policies. Brownback, who serves on the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, voted in favor of the Patriot Act. Brownback voted against making FEMA independent from the DHS in 2006. In 2005, he voted against the Homeland Security Grant Program Amendment. He voted for the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, as well as the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Editor's Note: Sen. Brownback withdrew his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on October 19, 2007.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

James S. Gilmore
Republican Primary Candidate

Gilmore has positioned himself as a homeland security and terrorism expert in Washington. As former chair of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, also known as the Gilmore Commission , he has made numerous recommendations to the Bush administration regarding homeland security. His panel's 2002 report (PDF)  said that the president should “specifically designate the DHS as the Lead Federal Agency for response to a bioterrorism attack, and specify its responsibilities and authority before, during, and after an attack.” The Gilmore Commission also recommended that both the Senate and House establish their own committees regarding terrorism and homeland security.

Gilmore, who served as a counter-intelligence agent  in the U.S. army during the 1970s, now chairs the Homeland Security Practice Group of the Kelley Drye law firm.

Editor's note: Gilmore withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination in July 2007.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Rudy Giuliani
Republican Primary Candidate

Giuliani won plaudits for his actions as mayor of New York City on 9/11. But he also admitted fault (AP) in vetting former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to be Secretary of Homeland Security. Kerik is suspected of organized crime connections (WashPost). Giuliani himself had been President Bush’s first choice for the job after former Secretary Tom Ridge stepped down in 2004.

Giuliani’s law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, has worked on several homeland security-related cases. It represented the “nation’s largest real estate investment trusts during the development” of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, and attorneys from the firm “contributed the majority of chapters to the first Homeland Security Law Handbook.” Giuliani expressed support for the Patriot Act in this 2005 New York Times op-ed.

In a September 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Giuliani stressed the need for a nuclear material detection systemin the United States.

Editor's note: Giuliani dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination on January 31, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Mike Huckabee
Republican Primary Candidate

Huckabee has criticized (NYT) the federal government for placing much of the burden for homeland security measures on individual states. In 2003, then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge appointed Huckabee as a representative to the State and Local Officials Senior Advisory Committee to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The National Governors Association created the Governors Homeland Security Advisers Council during Huckabee’s time as NGA Chairman.

Editor's Note: Huckabee withdrew his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on March 4, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Duncan Hunter
Republican Primary Candidate

Rep. Hunter (R-CA) has focused primarily on the aspects of homeland security that pertain to stopping illegal immigration. He is a proponent of enhanced border security and immigration crackdowns to bolster national security. Hunter served on the Select Committee on Homeland Security. Like the majority of his counterparts in the House, Hunter supported the FY 2006 Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act which granted $34.2 billion in DHS funding and authorizes the hiring of 2,000 new border patrol agents, among other measures.

Hunter cosponsored the controversial Real ID Act of 2005. Among other things, it called for the construction of 3.5 additional miles of the Mexican border fence near San Diego. Hunter voted for the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001. He also voted to reauthorize it in 2006.

Editor's note: Hunter dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination on January 19, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Ron Paul
Republican Primary Candidate

Rep. Paul (R-TX) voted against a number of homeland security measures that he considered to be infringements on personal liberties. Further, he implied in a May 2007 Republican debate that he would do away with the Department of Homeland Security, which he called a "gigantic bureaucracy." Paul voted against the Patriot Act in 2001. He was one of only four Congressmen to vote against the 2006 DHS Authorization Act. He also voted against implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendation Act in 2007, the Real ID Act of 2005, and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Paul voted against the Homeland Security Department Authorization Act FY06.

Editor's Note: Rep. Paul withdrew his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on June 12, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Mitt Romney
Republican Primary Candidate

Romney has some experience in dealing with issues of homeland security. He served as chief of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, as chair of the National Governors Association's Homeland Security Committee, and as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Under Romney's governorship, Massachusetts received a "passing grade" from the DHS in 2006, meaning that that state had an acceptable disaster response plan.

In 2003, Romney said in a statement before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee (PDF) that the United States should allocate funds to develop statewide plans in which the homeland security efforts of various communities within a given state are integrated. He also called for improved intelligence sharing.

Editor's note: Romney dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination on February 7, 2008.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Tom Tancredo
Republican Primary Candidate

Tancredo has framed his number one issue – cracking down on illegal immigration – as a homeland security issue as well. Tancredo voted for the Patriot Act in 2001. He voted against the legislation that established the Department of Homeland Security. Tancredo cosponsored the Real ID Act of 2005, and voted for the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act in 2004.

Editor's Note: Congressman Tancredo formally withdrew his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on December 20, 2007.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.

Tommy Thompson
Republican Primary Candidate

In 2002, Thompson, then-Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), praised the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, saying it “will ultimately help us improve the safety of American families in their homes and communities.”

As HHS Secretary, Thompson engaged with DHS in efforts to enhance preparedness in case of a terrorist attack, and urged Congress to pass the Project BioShield Act in a 2003 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Committee on Homeland Security. The Project BioShield Act, which President Bush finally signed into law in 2004, allocated $5.6 billion over 10 years for the purchase of vaccines for potential bioterror weapons like smallpox and anthrax. The bill, said Thompson, would “enable the government to develop, procure, and make available countermeasures to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents for use in a public health emergency that affects national security.”

Editor's note: Thompson dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination on August 12, 2007.

Click here for this candidate's position on other top foreign policy issues.