[After her amputations in combat], over the next five months [my husband] Bryan and I called Senator Durbin's office repeatedly.
We called about administrative snafus and housing problems. We called when veterans told us they weren't receiving their proper pay.
We completely abused the privilege of that phone number, but Dick Durbin didn't complain once. He assigned a staff member to be our point person, and when we would call with an issue, we never failed to get a follow up.
Dick essentially became the unofficial ombudsman for the wounded warriors at Walter Reed.
Q: The Benghazi attack became not only a tragedy, but also a politicized event in our national security debate. Is this a big deal or a big reaction?
DURBIN: No, it's a big deal. Vice President Biden gave us a classified briefing this last week.
They identified more than 25 of our embassies around the world that are particularly vulnerable.
In the Defense Appropriations bill, which we wrote and sent to committee this week, I included $48 million specifically to upgrade in 35 embassies around the world the security that we need. We need to protect the people who are out there representing
us, we need to know and realize we're living in an increasingly-dangerous world. And this specific threat that we've been briefed on over and over again has reached a new level.
DURBIN: The bottom line is this--this was a tragedy. We lost four Americans. We want to find those responsible and hold them responsible and we want to make sure that the security in embassies and consulates in the future, is
going to be the very best. But unfortunately, this has been caught up in the 2016 presidential campaign--this effort to go after Hillary Clinton.
Q: There were 12 revisions of the government's version of what happened that night. The first version said
that there were elements of al Qaeda involved in this, as an attack. Then at the end, the talking points said, "there are indications that extremists participated in violent demonstrations"--a totally different take on things. Why?
DURBIN: The Obama
administration provided 25,000 pages of email. There's no attempt to cover it up. This was a squabble between two agencies, the CIA & the State Department, about the wording. [The idea of a cover-up] is unsubstantiated, and yet, the witch hunt continues.
Veterans angry over accusations that Guantanamo like gulag
Sauerberg accused Durbin of comparing U.S. troops to Nazis, saying many Illinois veterans are angry with Durbin. Sauerberg was referring to a comment Durbin made in 2005 saying prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay were receiving treatment that sounded like something “done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime.” The comment made no reference to U.S. troops.
Durbin said Monday night that he was among the first senators to call attention to treatment at Guantanamo, though he wound up apologizing for “some words” he used. “They weren’t used in reference to any soldiers, doctor,”
Durbin said to Sauerberg. “They were in reference to whoever was involved in what the FBI agents found at Guantanamo.”
"The inmates of Guantanamo have never been treated better and they've never been more comfortable in their lives. And the idea that somehow we are torturing people in Guantanamo is absolutely not true, unless you consider having to eat chicken three
times a week is torture." --Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman, House Armed Services Committee, June 12, 2005 "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what most Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you
would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some made regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings." --Sen. Dick Durbin, on FBI report on treatment of Gitmo prisoners, June 17,
2005 "If the word of how they're being treated keeps getting out, we're going to have al-Qaeda people surrendering all over the world trying to get in the place." --Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, June 16, 2005
Homeland security must include a substantial investment in safer airports, secure borders, community police, better transportation, improved public health, safeguards for nuclear facilities, energy conservation and the targeting of anti-terrorism
resources towards the locations that face the greatest risk. In recent years, my Senate colleagues and I supported a $15 billion special appropriation for increased homeland security, but the Bush Administration opposed it. Our proposal would have
provided adequate funding for state and local police and firefighters to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and upgrade their hazardous materials teams. It would have monitored foreign student visas more closely, combated bioterrorism by expanding
local lab and hospital capacity to recognize pathogens and treat victims, accelerated the purchase of smallpox vaccines and anthrax antibiotics, hired more food inspectors to deter attacks against our food supply and enhanced security at US labs.
Apologizes for comparing Guantanamo to Nazis & Soviet gulags
Sauerberg lashed out at a June 2005 speech in which Durbin said an FBI report on American treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be likened to the “Nazis,
Soviets in their gulags” or the regime of Cambodian leader Pol Pot. Days later, Durbin apologized for his remarks and said he did not intend any “disrespect” for the
U.S. military. Sauerberg called Durbin’s apology “weak.”
“I’m not sure what Sen. Durbin thought he was doing here,” he said. “I don’t know if he hates his country.
I know they were terrible remarks that have hurt the people of this nation.”
“I think he’s resorting to personal, hateful personal attacks,” a Durbin spokesman said. “I don’t think that’s what people are looking for.”
Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps.
Congressional Summary: A bill to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 relating to access to business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers, and roving wiretaps until December 8, 2011.
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
Reference: FISA Sunsets Extension Act;
; vote number 11-SV019
on Feb 17, 2011
Voted NO on cutting $221M in benefits to Filipinos who served in WWII US Army.
Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. INOUYE. From the Spanish-American War in 1898, until the end of World War II, we exercised jurisdiction over the Philippines like a colonial power. In July 1941, we called upon the Filipinos to volunteer to serve the US under American command, and 470,000 Filipinos volunteered. An Executive Order in 1941 promised Filipinos if they fought for us, they could become citizens of the US and get all of the veterans' benefits. But in 1946, the Congress rescinded the 1941 act. Well, this veterans bill has a provision in it--a provision of honor--in which, finally, after six decades, we will restore our honor and tell the Filipinos: It is late, but please forgive us. Proponents argument for voting YEA:Sen. BURR. This bill is so much more than just a pension for Philippine veterans. It is $332 million in Philippine benefits, of which $221 million is devoted to a new special pension that does not exist [previously.
Only that $221M would be cut]. Regardless of the outcome of my amendment, I support final passage of this bill. But we do have a difference as it relates to the pensions. I believe that there was not a promise made. We did not imply it. Those who made the decision on the 1946 Rescissions Act, they looked at the history very well.
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.
Voted YES on requiring FISA court warrant to monitor US-to-foreign calls.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. FEINGOLD: The Protect America Act (PAA) we passed last year was sold repeatedly as a way to allow the Government to collect foreign-to-foreign communications without needing the approval of the FISA Court. Now, this is something all of us support, every one of us. But the PAA actually went much further. It authorized new sweeping intrusions into the privacy of countless Americans. The bill the Senate is considering to replace the PAA does not do nearly enough to safeguard against Government abuse. So this amendment would provide those safeguards.
[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.
Voted NO on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad.
Vote on passage of S.1927, the Protect America Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to state that nothing under its definition of "electronic surveillance" should encompass surveillance directed at any person reasonably believed to be located outside the US.
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.
Reference: Protect America Act;
; vote number 2007-309
on Aug 3, 2007
Voted YES on limiting soldiers' deployment to 12 months.
Vote on an amendment, SA2032, which amends HR1585, the Defense Authorization bill: To limit the deployment of a unit or individual of the Armed Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom to no more than 12 consecutive months; and to limit Marine Corps deployment to no more than 7 consecutive months; except in time of national emergency.
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.
Voted YES on implementing the 9/11 Commission report.
Vote on passage of a bill to implement unfinished recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) to fight the war on terror more effectively:
I: Improving Intelligence and Information Sharing within the Federal Government and with State, Local, and Tribal Governments
II: Homeland Security Grants
III: Communications Operability and Interoperability
IV: Emergency Management Performance Grants Program
V: Enhancing Security of International Travel
VI: Privacy and Civil Liberties Matters
VII: Enhanced Defenses Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
VIII: Private Sector Preparedness
IX: Transportation Security Planning and Information Sharing
X: Incident Command System
XI: Critical Infrastructure Protection
XII: Congressional Oversight of Intelligence
XIII: International Cooperation on Antiterrorism Technologies
XIV: Transportation and Interoperable Communication
XV: Public Transportation Terrorism Prevention
XVII: 911 Modernization
XIX: Advancement of Democratic Values
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.
Reference: Improving America's Security Act;
Bill S. 4
; vote number 2007-073
on Mar 13, 2007
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.
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.
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.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
Some may see the vote we are about to have as relatively trivial. They are mistaken. While the bill we are voting on makes only minor cosmetic changes to the PATRIOT Act, it will allow supporting the PATRIOT Act conference report that was blocked in December. Cosmetic changes simply don't cut it when we are talking about protecting the rights and freedoms of
Americans from unnecessarily intrusive Government powers.
The White House has tried to make life uncomfortable for Senators. It has suggested they are soft on terrorism, that they don't understand the pressing threat facing this country, that they are stuck in a pre-9/11 mindset. Those attacks should be rejected.
We can fight terrorism aggressively without compromising our most fundamental freedoms against Government intrusion. The Government grabbed powers it should not have when it passed the original PATRIOT Act and we should not be ratifying that power grab today. The PATRIOT Act reauthorization conference report is flawed. S. 2271 pretends to fix it but I don't think anyone is fooled, least of all our constituents.
Because the Republican leadership obstructed efforts to improve the bill, the "police state" provisions regarding gag orders remain uncorrected. The Senate should get down to the serious business of legislating real fixes to the PATRIOT Act.
Voted NO 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 YES 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:
Empower the President under the Trading with the Enemy Act to prohibit US businesses and their subsidiaries from transacting with foreign businesses identified as having links to terrorism.
Forbid US businesses and their subsidiaries from engaging in transactions with any foreign business whose parent country has been identified as a supporter of international terrorism.
Require the President to publish a list of foreign businesses identified as having links to terrorism, and bans US ownership or control of foreign businesses engaged in transactions with such businesses.
Call for US businesses to disclose in their annual reports any ownership stake of at least 10% in a foreign business that is itself engaging in transactions with a proscribed foreign business.
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.
Voted YES on adopting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would ban nuclear weapons testing six months after ratification by the 44 nations that have nuclear power plants or nucelar research reactors.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Rejected Y)48; N)51; P)1
Reference: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
Bill Treaty Document #105-28
; vote number 1999-325
on Oct 13, 1999
Voted NO on allowing another round of military base closures.
Vote on an amendment to allow one round of military base closures beginning in 2001 as determined by an independent panel.
Voted NO on cutting nuclear weapons below START levels.
The Kerrey (D-NE) amdt would strike bill language requiring that U.S. strategic nuclear forces remain at START I levels through the end of fiscal 2000 unless Russia ratified START II.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)56; N)44
Reference: Motion to table Kerrey Amdt #395;
Bill S. 1059
; vote number 1999-149
on May 26, 1999
Voted NO on deploying National Missile Defense ASAP.
Vote that the policy of the US is to deploy a National Missile Defense system capable of defending against limited ballistic missile attack as soon as it is technologically possible, and to seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces.
Vote to pass a bill to authorize a military pay raise of 4.8% in 2000 and annual pay increases through 2006 of 0.5% above the inflation rate. The bill would also provide additional incentives to certain enlisted personnel who remain on active duty.
; vote number 1999-26
on Feb 24, 1999
Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex basic training.
Byrd Amdt (D-WV) that would prohibit same-sex military barracks and basic training.
Status: Amdt Rejected Y)39; N)53; NV)8
Reference: Byrd Amdt #3011;
Bill S. 2057
; vote number 1998-180
on Jun 25, 1998
Voted NO on favoring 36 vetoed military projects.
Overturning line-item vetoes of 36 military projects vetoed by President Clinton.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)30; NV)1
Reference: Line Item Veto Cancellation bill;
Bill S. 1292
; vote number 1997-287
on Oct 30, 1997
Voted YES on banning chemical weapons.
Approval of the chemical weapons ban.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Agreed to Y)74; N)26
Reference: Resolution of ratification of the Chemical (Comprehensive) Weapons (Convention) Ban;
Bill S. Res. 75
; vote number 1997-51
on Apr 24, 1997
Establish Maritime Security grants for ports and vessels.
Durbin co-sponsored the Port and Maritime Security Act
Directs the Secretary of Transportation to:
identify vessel types and U.S. port facilities that pose a high risk of being involved in a transportation security incident
assess vulnerability of U.S. port facilities and vessels that may be involved in a transportation security incident.
Requires owners or operators of vessels or facilities to prepare a vessel or facility security plan for deterring a transportation security incident to the maximum extent practicable.
Requires such plans to be consistent with the National Maritime Transportation Security Plan.
Requires transportation security cards for entry into a secured area of a vessel or facility.
Directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish maritime safety and security teams to protect vessels, harbors, ports, facilities, and cargo in U.S. waters.
Establishes a grant program for port authorities, facility operators, and State and local agencies required to provide security services.
Directs the Secretary of Transportation to assess the effectiveness of antiterrorism measures maintained at specified foreign ports and make recommendations for improvements for foreign ports that do not maintain effective antiterrorism measures
Became Public Law No: 107-295.
Source: Bill sponsored by 15 Senators 01-S1214 on Jul 20, 2001
Federalize aviation security.
Durbin co-sponsored the Aviation Security Act
Establishes the Transportation Security Administration, including:
civil aviation security, and related research and development activities;
day-to-day Federal security screening operations for passenger air transportation and intrastate air transportation;
policies, strategies, and plans for dealing with threats to transportation;
domestic transportation during a national emergency, including aviation, rail, and other surface transportation
management of security information, including notifying airport or airline security officers of the identity of individuals known to pose a risk of air piracy or terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety.
H.R. 2951 is the corresponding House bill. Became Public Law No: 107-71.
Source: Bill sponsored by 31 Senators and 25 Reps 01-S1447 on Sep 21, 2001
Rated 100% by SANE, indicating a pro-peace voting record.
Durbin scores 100% 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...
That every person has the right to live without the threat of nuclear weapons.
That war is not a suitable response to conflict.
That America has the resources to both protect and provide for its citizens.
As the Pentagon’s 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.
Hiding sources made post-9-11 analysis impossible.
Durbin signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq
CONCLUSIONS - TERRORISM
Conclusion 8. Intelligence Community analysts lack a consistent post-September 11 approach to analyzing and reporting on terrorist threats.
Conclusion 9. Source protection policies within the Intelligence Community direct or encourage reports officers to exclude relevant detail about the nature of their sources. As a result, analysts community-wide are unable to make fully informed judgments about the information they receive, relying instead on nonspecific source lines to reach their assessments. Moreover, relevant operational data is nearly always withheld from analysts, putting them at a further analytical disadvantage.
Conclusion 10. The Intelligence Community relies too heavily on foreign government services and third party reporting, thereby increasing the potential for manipulation of U.S. policy by foreign interests.
Conclusion 11. Several of the allegations of pressure on Intelligence Community (IC) analysts involved repeated questioning. The Committee believes that IC analysts should expect difficult and repeated questions regarding threat information. Just as the post 9/11 environment lowered the Intelligence Community's reporting threshold, it has also affected the intensity with which policymakers will review and question threat information.
Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC2 on May 8, 2004
CIA depends too heavily on defectors & not enough on HUMINT.
Durbin signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (WMD) COLLECTION CONCLUSIONS
Conclusion 77. The Intelligence Community relied too heavily on United Nations (UN) BLACKED OUT information about Iraq's programs and did not develop a sufficient unilateral collection effort targeting Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and related activities to supplement UN-collected information and to take its place upon the departure of the UN inspectors.
Conclusion 78. The Intelligence Community depended too heavily on defectors and foreign government services to obtain human intelligence (HUMINT) information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction activities. Because the Intelligence Community did not have direct access to many of these sources, it was exceedingly difficult to determine source credibility.
Conclusion 79. The Intelligence Community waited too long after inspectors departed Iraq to increase collection against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
Conclusion 80. Even after the departure of United Nations (UN) inspectors, placement of human intelligence (HUMINT) agents and development of unilateral sources inside Iraq were not top priorities for the Intelligence Community.
Conclusion 81. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) continues to excessively compartment sensitive human intelligence (HUMINT) reporting and fails to share important information about HUMINT reporting and sources with Intelligence Community analysts who have a need to know.
Conclusion 82. BLACKED OUT. The lack of in-country human intelligence (HUMINT) collection assets contributed to this collection gap.
Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC8 on May 8, 2004
Administration did not pressure CIA on WMD conclusions.
Durbin signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq
Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.
Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.
Conclusion 102. The Committee found that none of the analysts or other people interviewed by the Committee said that they were pressured to change their conclusions related to Iraq's links to terrorism. After 9/11, however, analysts were under tremendous pressure to make correct assessments, to avoid missing a credible threat, and to avoid an intelligence failure on the scale of 9/11.
As a result, the Intelligence Community's assessments were bold and assertive in pointing out potential terrorist links. For instance, the June 2002 Central Intelligence Agency assessment Iraq and al-Qaida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship was, according to its Scope Note, "purposefully aggressive" in drawing connections between Iraq and al-Qaida in an effort to inform policymakers of the potential that such a relationship existed. All of the participants in the August 2002 coordination meeting on the September 2002 version of Iraqi Support/or Terrorism interviewed by the Committee agreed that while some changes were made to the paper as a result of the participation of two Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy staffers, their presence did not result in changes to their analytical judgments.
Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC9 on May 8, 2004
Repeal Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, and reinstate discharged gays.
Durbin signed HR1283&S3065
Repeals current Department of Defense policy [popularly known as "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell"] concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces. Prohibits the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation against any member of the Armed Forces or any person seeking to become a member. Authorizes the re-accession into the Armed Forces of otherwise qualified individuals previously separated for homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the furnishing of dependent benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of 'marriage' and 'spouse' and referred to as the 'Defense of Marriage Act').
Source: Military Readiness Enhancement Act 10-HR1283 on Mar 3, 2010
Restrict domestic monitoring of phone calls.
Durbin signed restricting domestic monitoring of phone calls
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014 or the USA FREEDOM Act: Congressional Summary:
Requires the FBI, when seeking phone call records, to show both relevance and a reasonable suspicion that the specific selection term is associated with a foreign power engaged in international terrorism.
Requires a judge approving the release, on a daily basis, of call detail records; and to limit production of records to a period of 180 days.
Requires a declassification review of each decision issued by the FISA court; and make such decisions publicly available, subject to permissible redactions.
Opposing argument: (ACLU, "Surveillance Reform After the USA Freedom Act", June 3, 2015): The USA Freedom Act that passed by a 67-32 margin is not as strong as we wanted. It is markedly weaker than the original version of the USA Freedom Act that the ACLU first supported in 2013.
We supported a sunset of the provisions in an effort to advance more comprehensive reform, including rejecting surveillance through cybersecurity information-sharing legislation. Notwithstanding this, however, it is very clear that the USA Freedom Act is a historic step forward.
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute , "Cato scholars differ on USA Freedom Act", Oct., 2015): The privacy community remained divided over the USA Freedom Act. The final version of the bill reauthorized several expiring Patriot Act provisions, but limited bulk collection. Some legislators argued that to pass new legislation would only provide the government convenient new legal justification for its spying--which it would interpret broadly. On the opposite side of the argument stood some pro-privacy groups who held that modest reforms were better than no reforms at all.
Congressional summary:: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act or the USA FREEDOM Act:
Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to require that the records sought pertain to an individual in contact with a foreign power.
Amends the USA PATRIOT Act to minimize the acquisition and retention of information and to prohibit its unauthorized dissemination.
Imposes additional requirements on the authorized use of pen registers and trap and trace devices (devices for recording incoming and outgoing telephone numbers).
Prohibits the searching of collections of communications of US persons.
Opponent's argument against (Electronic Frontier Foundation): The bill only addresses a small portion of the problems created by NSA spying. It does not touch problems like NSA programs to sabotage encryption standards; it does not effectively tackle
the issue of collecting information on people outside of the US; and it doesn't address the authority that the government is supposedly using to tap the data links between service provider data centers, such as those owned by Google and Yahoo. The bill also does not address excessive secrecy; it won't deal with the major over-classification issues or the state secrets privilege.
Opponent's argument against (J. Kirk Wiebe, former NSA Senior Intelligence Analyst interview with TheRealNews.com): It's window dressing. Stopping bulk collection is a good step, but the only thing that's going to fix this is direct access into NSA's databases by an independent group of hackers, techie types, people like Snowden who know how to get into a network and look at things and verify that the data they're collecting and what they're doing with it complies with the Constitution. The NSA has essentially operated illegally--unconstitutionally--for 60% of its existence.
Address abuses of electronic monitoring in the workplace.
Durbin co-sponsored addressing abuses of electronic monitoring in the workplace
Establishes certain privacy protections for employees and customers with respect to electronic monitoring in the workplace by employers.
Directs the Secretary of Labor to enforce such protections.
Provides for coverage of employees of the House of Representatives and the Senate under this Act.
Source: Privacy for Consumers and Workers Act (H.R.1900) 1993-H1900 on Apr 28, 1993
Restore habeas corpus for detainees in the War on Terror.
Durbin co-sponsored restoring habeas corpus for detainees in the War on Terror
A bill to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Sen. SPECTER. "I introduce this legislation, denominated the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. Last year, in the Military Commissions Act, the constitutional right of habeas corpus was attempted to be abrogated. I say "attempted to be abrogated" because, in my legal judgment, that provision in the Act is unconstitutional.
"It is hard to see how there can be legislation to eliminate the constitutional right to habeas corpus when the Constitution is explicit that habeas corpus may not be suspended except in time of invasion or rebellion, and we do not have either of those circumstances present, as was conceded by the advocates of the legislation last year to take away the right of habeas corpus.
"We have had
Supreme Court decisions which have made it plain that habeas corpus is available to non-citizens and that habeas corpus applies to territory controlled by the US, specifically, including Guantanamo. More recently, however, we had a decision in the US District Court applying the habeas corpus jurisdiction stripping provision of the Military Commissions Act, but I believe we will see the appellate courts strike down this legislative provision.
"The New York Times had an extensive article on this subject, starting on the front page, last Sunday, and continuing on a full page on the back page about what is happening at Guantanamo. It is hard to see how in America, or in a jurisdiction controlled by the United States, these proceedings could substitute for even rudimentary due process of law."
Source: Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S.185/H.R.2826) 2007-S185 on Jun 22, 2007
Military spouses don't lose voting residency while abroad.
Durbin signed Military Spouses Residency Relief Act
A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency, and for other purposes.
Prohibits, for purposes of voting for a federal, state, or local office, deeming a person to have lost a residence or domicile in a state, acquired a residence or domicile in any other state, or become a resident in or of any other state solely because the person is absent from a state because the person is accompanying the person's spouse who is absent from the state in compliance with military or naval orders.
Prohibits a servicemember's spouse from either losing or acquiring a residence or domicile for purposes of taxation because of being absent or present in any U.S. tax jurisdiction solely to be with the servicemember in compliance with the servicemember's military orders if the residence or domicile is the same for the servicemember and the spouse. Prohibits a spouse's income from being considered income earned in a tax jurisdiction if the spouse is not a resident or domiciliary of such jurisdiction when the spouse is in that jurisdiction solely to be with a servicemember serving under military orders.
Suspends land rights residency requirements for spouses accompanying servicemembers serving under military orders.
Durbin signed Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act
A bill to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to:
report on barriers to the receipt of comprehensive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) encountered by women veterans, especially those of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom;
provide for an independent study on health consequences for women veterans serving on active duty in deployments in such Operations; and
report on the employment of full-time managers for women veterans programs at VA medical centers.
Requires the Secretary to:
develop a plan to improve the provision of
VA health care services to women veterans;
carry out a program of education, training, certification, and continuing medical education for mental health professionals providing care for veterans suffering from sexual trauma;
carry out a pilot program of providing reintegration and readjustment services in group retreat settings to women veterans recently separated from service after a prolonged deployment; and
carry out a pilot program on subsidies for child care for certain women veterans receiving health care from VA facilities.
Requires women veterans recently separated from service to be included on the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.
Authorizes the Secretary to furnish care to a newborn child of a woman veteran receiving VA maternity care for up to seven days after the birth of the child.