Conrad Burns on Homeland Security
Former Republican Senator (MT, 1989-2007)
Patriot Act only affects your freedoms if youíre a terrorist
JONES: Pres. Bush pushed and pushed to get the Patriot Act approved. Not a single member of Congress, including this one [Burns], read the Patriot Act before it was signed. It was laid out in front of them, ad with a great deal of pressure from corrupt
party leaders, they signed that bill. Pres. Bush demanded it, and demanded other bills that have been just as threatening to our freedom, and put great pressures on members of Congress to pass those bills.
BURNS: Pres. Bush took an oath to protect this
country. Letís talk about the Patriot Act. You have not given up one freedom, not ONE freedom that you didnít have before, unless youíre a terrorist, or a suspected terrorist, or affiliated with the Mafia, or affiliated with drug kingpins. If you repeal
the Patriot Act, the wall goes back up between the FBI and the CIA and the DIA, Defense Intelligence, and they cannot connect the dots. And the Meth Control Act is within the Patriot Act. There are consequences; it is a tool to protect this country.
Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU (x-ref Jones)
Oct 9, 2006
Patriot Act merely gives tools like against organized crime
Q: What can ensure the safety of Americans, given that you donít support the PATRIOT Act?
TESTER: The Patriot Act has very little to do with the War on Terrorism and a lot to do with why the terrorists attacked this country, which is to take away our
BURNS: The Patriot Act gave the tools to our law enforcement people, the same tools that they had to go after organized crime and drug kingpins. Thatís all it is. He wants to go soft on the war on terror -- but I think theyíre as dangerous as
organized crime. He wants to weaken that. I donít want to weaken that. On monitoring phone calls -- I want to know what theyíre doing. Mr. Tester doesnít understand this enemy. It is global. How do you deal with someone that will kill themselves just to
take the life of someone they donít agree with? He wants to weaken the Patriot Act, and take away the tools from the people who work for our protection.
TESTER: I donít want to weaken the Patriot Act, I want to repeal it. It takes away your freedoms.
Source: 2006 MT Senate debate, Tester vs. Burns in Butte
Sep 24, 2006
Voted NO 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 NO 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.
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.
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
- 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 NO 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
Voted NO 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.
; vote number 1999-147
on May 26, 1999
Voted YES 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 YES 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.
Bill S 257
; vote number 1999-51
on Mar 17, 1999
Voted YES on military pay raise of 4.8%.
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 YES 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 YES 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 NO 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
Voted YES on considering deploying NMD, and amending ABM Treaty.
Vote to consider establishing a policy requiring the deployment of a national missile defense system by the end of 2003. The bill would also urge discussions with Russia to amend the ABM Treaty to allow deployment of the system.
Bill S 1635
; vote number 1996-157
on Jun 4, 1996
Voted YES on 1996 Defense Appropriations.
Approval of the 1996 Defense Appropriations bill.
Status: Bill Passed Y)62; N)35; NV)3
Reference: Defense Approps Bill FY 96;
Bill S. 1087
; vote number 1995-397
on Sep 5, 1995
Federalize aviation security.
Burns co-sponsored the Aviation Security Act
Establishes the Transportation Security Administration, including: 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
- 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.
Small business in developing homeland security technologies.
Burns co-sponsored a resolution on small businesses
Expresses the sense of the Senate that: (1) small business participation is vital to U.S. defense and should play an active role in assisting the military, Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and State and local police to combat terrorism through the design and development of innovative products; and (2) Federal, State, and local governments should aggressively seek out and purchase innovative technologies and services from, and promote research opportunities for, American small businesses to help in homeland defense and the fight against terrorism. Passed/agreed to in Senate.
Source: Resolution sponsored by 26 Senators 02-SR264 on May 8, 2002
Rated 0% by SANE, indicating a pro-military voting record.
Burns scores 0% 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.
- 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.
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
Sponsored bill for Iraq budget to be part of defense budget.
Burns introduced requiring Iraq War budget be part of regular defense budget
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: Since the start of both the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war, expenditures for those war have been voted for in "emergency supplemental spending bills," instead of in the normal defense spending bill. That implies that the expenditures are unexpectedly high, which may have been true in the early years of the war. This amendment requires regular budgeting for the Afghanistan & Iraq wars.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require regular budgeting for ongoing military operations.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
- The President's budget for each fiscal year after 2007 shall include--
- a request for funds for such fiscal year for ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq;
- an estimate of all funds expected to be required in that fiscal year for such operations; and
- a detailed justification of the funds requested.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote, 98-0, Vote Number: 170.
Source: Defense Authorization Bill (S.AMDT.4242 to S.2766) 06-SP4242 on Jun 14, 2006
Page last updated: Nov 22, 2009