Securing Our Nation, Protecting Our Liberties

The American people were told that we were invading Iraq as part of the War on Terror. I publicly urged the White House not to take this disastrous course because I was among those who believed the Iraq War and subsequent occupation would do more harm than good.

We are far less secure today than we were five years ago. The Bush administration's tactics in Iraq have fueled our enemies' rage, made the world a more dangerous place for Americans, compromised our Constitution, and weakened our military. The next Congress will face major challenges to get us moving in the right direction again.

Fortunately, an alternative route to a more intelligent national security policy is already available. I was among the earliest to sign onto "A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq," which lays out the steps we must take to end the violence in that region and better defend our country. More than 50 other candidates for Congress and some of America's leading military experts have now endorsed this proposal - a proposal which describes a number of strategies that I called for even before we invaded Iraq. Read the full plan for yourself at http://www.responsibleplan.com. If you believe, as I do, that it provides a path to peace and to restoring our standing across the globe, I encourage you to join me in signing and supporting this proposal.

Rebuilding Our Image, Restoring Our Rights

America has won allies throughout its history by living up to the high standard it expects of others. From Abu Gharib to Guantanamo, that reputation has been terribly tarnished. To remove those stains and to restore our standing with the rest of the world, this country must rise above even the appearance of wrongdoing. We must completely disavow the use of torture - either by ourselves or by nations acting on our behalf. Not only does it go against everything we value, torture is ineffective and exposes our own troops to the risk of it being used against them.

In a dangerous environment, only strict military discipline and clear lines of accountability can be counted on to prevent abuses. We must rely on military discipline and not on private militias. In Congress I will support and push to pass the Stop Outsourcing Security and MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Acts, to phase out the use of private military contractors and to hold these contractors responsible for their actions.

Our focus on Iraq does little to deter terrorists and depletes the resources needed to defend American soil against another terrorist attack. While we are so focused on protecting Baghdad, we have neglected our own borders. Enforcing laws already on the books could save countless American lives, but the Border Patrol is overwhelmed with the task at hand. I will support proposals to greatly expand USBP and to give its staff the equipment and technology they need to complete their vital tasks.

We must also search for security solutions outside the Pentagon. Nation building is a task for civil servants and not just soldiers. I will work to reorganize the State Department to meet the unique security challenges of our role in the 21st century. We need to rebuild organizations like the United States Agency for International Development and the United States Information Agency to create trust and goodwill for the United States across the globe. At the same time, we must train more non-military personnel for work at the grassroots level.

Finally, we must turn towards renewable energy to help end our reliance on foreign sources of fuel and to help restore our international credibility as a leader for freedom and democracy. As our allies in oil, these sources damage our credibility and force us to live under the constant threat of a crippling oil boycott.

Serving Those Who Serve Us

The Bush administration turned to contractors to carry out duties in Iraq because it has become difficult for the military to recruit our young men and women for service. We must offer those willing to put their life on the line for this country the absolute best both while they are serving and after. In Congress, I will support the passage of Senator Webb's new GI Bill and the Veterans Health Care Improvement Act to increase the health coverage and educational opportunities they will receive. I am proud to have Jim Webb's endorsement in this race, and I look forward to joining him in getting American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines the treatment they deserve.

Protecting Our Civil Liberties

We need to reassess the way the Bush Administration has conducted the War on Terror. In the administration's attempt to make the world safe for freedom and democracy, the White House has been all too willing to sacrifice those very values. We cannot save what American stands for by making exceptions in the process.

Freedom of speech and freedom from illegal searches are enshrined in our Constitution and I will not allow them to be ignored. I strongly oppose the current policy of illegal wiretapping, and will work to make sure that all searches are reviewed by the courts as outlined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I will support the Foreign Surveillance Expedited Review Act to offer relief to those injured by those unconstitutional searches.

I will join with my colleagues in Congress to repeal the portions of the Military Commissions Act that suspended the basic right of habeas corpus and to amend those provisions of the Patriot Act that allow the government to grievously violate the privacy of its citizens. I strongly believe in the checks and balances of our three-branch government, and reject the Bush Doctrine of the “Unitary Presidency.” I will fight to restore the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Finally, only through open and honest discourse can we protect our democracy. Corporate-controlled media outlets did not do nearly enough to highlight the flaws and contradictions in the White House's strategy before the war. I will work against the growing media monopolies that control what we see and hear. Opening public airwaves by limiting the percentage of the media market that each corporation controls will go a long way towards making sure that the all-too-necessary questions get asked.