Elizabeth Warren on Homeland Security

Massachusetts Senator; former head of CFPB; Dem. Presidential Challenger


We need a strong military AND a strong State Department

Q: You said you wanted to bring home all troops from the Middle East and then you walked that back to say you want to bring home combat troops.


Q: How does that protect America's national security?

WARREN: Look, a president's first job is to keep America safe, and an important part of that is to have a strong military. All three of my brothers served in the military, and I understand how much the military sacrifices, how much their families sacrifice, and how much they are willing to put on the line. That means that we have a sacred responsibility to them, and that is not to use our military to solve problems that cannot be solved militarily. We are not winning in Afghanistan. We are not winning in the Middle East. What we need to do is we need to use all of the tools in our toolbox. We need a strong military. We also need a strong State Department. Those are our eyes and ears on the ground. They are our frontlines in diplomacy.

Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

Fight to get military benefits, but cut defense budget

WARREN: The job of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. I think that's about judgment. It starts with knowing our military. I sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I work with military leaders, but I also visit our troops. I make sure they get their pay, the housing and medical benefits they've been promised. We have a problem with a revolving door between the defense industry and the Pentagon. We need to block that revolving door, and we need to cut our defense budget.

CEO Tom STEYER: It isn't so much about experience, it's about judgment. What we are hearing is 20 years of mistakes by the government in the Middle East. So the real question is judgment. If you look who had the judgment, it was a state senator from Illinois with no experience named Barack Obama who opposed the war. An outside perspective, looking at this and actually dealing with the problems as they are is what we're looking for now.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Guantanamo prison is an international embarrassment

Q: Pres. Obama pledged to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, but could not: 40 prisoners remain there. Last year, taxpayers paid $540 million to keep Guantanamo open. Would you pledge to finally close the detention facility and if elected, how will you do it?

Warren: Yes, it's time to close this detention facility. It not only costs us money, it is an international embarrassment. We have to be an America that lives our values every single day. We can't be an America that stands up and asks people to fight alongside us, as we did with the Kurds in fighting ISIS, and then turn around in the blink of a tweet and say that we're turning our backs on the people who stood beside us. After that, who wants to be an ally of the United States? We have to be an America that understands the difference and recognizes the difference between our allies, the people who will work alongside us, and the dictators who would do us harm. And we need to treat our allies better than we treat the dictators.

Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate , Dec 19, 2019

More Americans should serve in military

Q: About 1 percent of Americans serve in the military right now. Should the number be higher?

WARREN: I think it should be. All three of my brothers served in the military. I think the notion of shared service is important. It's how we help bring our nation together. It's how people learn to work together from different regions, people who grew up differently. It's also about how families share that sacrifice.

Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

No-first-use nuclear policy makes world safer

Q: You want to make it U.S. policy that the U.S. will never use a nuclear weapon unless another country uses one first. Now, President Obama reportedly considered that policy, but ultimately decided against it. Why should the U.S. tie its own hands with that policy?

WARREN: Because it makes the world safer. The US is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world. It reduces the likelihood that someone miscalculates, someone misunderstands. Donald Trump keeps expanding the different ways that we have nuclear weapons, the different ways that they could be used puts us all at risk. You know, our military is the best on Earth. But we should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution. We need to use our diplomatic tools, our economic tools, and if we're going to send someone into war, we better have a plan for how we're going to get them out on the other end.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

End stranglehold of defense contractors on military policy

  • Her campaign website says that she supports "cutting our bloated defense budget and ending the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy." But she has voted to approve over 2/3 of the military spending bills that have come before her in the Senate.
  • Her website also says, "It's time to bring the troops home," and that she supports "reinvesting in diplomacy." She has come out in favor of the U.S. rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement and has also proposed legislation that would prevent the United States from using nuclear weapons as a first-strike option, saying she wants to "reduce the chances of a nuclear miscalculation."
    Source: Truthout.org, "War and Peace," on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 27, 2019

    Reagan military spending meant more bombs & fewer textbooks

    Under Reagan, defense spending rose by 34 percent. And spending that was already guaranteed by law, like Social Security and Medicare, remained out of the Republicans' reach. But all other spending that Congress had to approve year after year was now on the chopping block. All the spending on education, on infrastructure, and on research.

    The trickle-down policies of the Reagan years shifted American' priorities. 1 At the same time that military spending expanded significantly, school funding was slashed by 15 percent. More bombs and fewer text books. And when the politicians figured out there was no price to pay politically, the cuts just kept on coming. Even during the Obama years, federal funding for education took a hard hit. In 2011, Republicans bargained for another 15% cut in return for increasing the debt ceiling and thus preventing the complete disruption of financial markets around the world.

    Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.118 , Apr 18, 2017

    Address predatory lending targeting young military enlistees

    [I wanted to address] the vulnerability of the youngest in service, kids fresh out of high school who were picking up the first regular paychecks in their lives. Young soldiers became targets for a number of aggressive scams. Once the young soldiers arrived on base, they ran a gauntlet of pretty young women to flirt and sell them on installment loans that charged 100% interest or more. Just sign here, sweetie.

    A bad debt could ruin not just a service member's credit score, but also the person's career. Not paying a debt is deemed "dishonorable conduct," a black mark that can cause soldiers to lose out on security clearance. In 2006, the Department of Defense studied predatory lending that targeted service members and concluded that such lending "undermines military readiness." The scam artists and predatory lenders who targeted our men and women in uniform were a national disgrace. The consumer agency needed to make fixing this problem a priority.

    Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.189-91 , Apr 22, 2014

    Reduce size of standing army to reduce deficit

    Warren portrayed herself as someone who was being honest and realistic when she said she would "raise revenues," a euphemism for taxes, and would even cut the military budget and redirect spending to education programs and improvements in the nation's infrastructure.

    Only late in the debate did Warren try to explain why and how she would cut the military budget. She said that Brown's determination not to raise taxes meant that the budget would not be balanced and the deficit would not be reduced, which would lead to across-the-board cuts in all agencies. She would rather make planned cuts, such as by reducing the size of the standing army, she said, than allow across-the-board cuts that could hurt needed programs.

    Source: N.Y. Times on 2012 Mass. Senate debates , Oct 11, 2012

    Not a good idea to strip terrorists of citizenship

    Warren is also not sure if it's a good idea to strip "homegrown terrorists" of their citizenship--she hasn't read her opponent's bill proposing such.
    Source: AntiWar.com blog, "Bomb, Bomb Iran" , Oct 17, 2011

    #1 responsibility: protect Americans from terrorism

    U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren left the door open yesterday to military action against Iran in the face of that country's growing nuclear threat--bolstering her national security credentials: "Our number one responsibility is to protect Americans from terrorism, that's our job, so being tough on terrorism is enormously important," said Warren yesterday at a campaign stop in Gloucester.
    Source: Hillary Chabot in Boston Herald , Oct 14, 2011

    Non-proliferation includes disposing of nuclear materials.

    Warren signed Letter from Congress on nuclear material security

    Press Release from Sen. Merkley's officeCiting the dangers to US national security posed by terrorists and rogue states seeking nuclear weapons, a bipartisan group of 26 senators sent a letter last week to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), calling on the President to support increased funding in the FY2016 budget to more rapidly secure and permanently dispose of nuclear and radiological materials. The letter comes in response to the President's proposals in recent years to decrease funding for nuclear material security and nonproliferation programs.

    The senators indicated that unsecured nuclear material poses unacceptably high risks to the safety of Americans and argued that the rate at which nuclear and radiological materials are secured and permanently disposed of must be accelerated. The senators expressed concern that cutting funds would slow what has been a successful process of elimination and reduction of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium in the international community. In just the last five years, nuclear security and non-proliferation programs have proven successful in eliminating HEU and separated plutonium from 13 countries, including Ukraine.

    "Reducing budgets for agencies and programs that help keep nuclear and radiological materials out of the hands of terrorists is out of sync with the high priority that the President has rightly placed on nuclear and radiological material security and signals a major retreat in the effort to lock down these materials at an accelerated rate," the senators wrote. "The recent spate of terrorism in Iraq, Pakistan, and Kenya is a harrowing reminder of the importance of ensuring that terrorist groups and rogue states cannot get their hands on the world's most dangerous weapons and materials."

    In the past two fiscal years, Congress has enacted $280 million additional dollars to the President's proposed funding for core non-proliferation activities.

    Source: Merkley/Feinstein letter to OMB 14_Lt_HS on Aug 18, 2014

    End bulk data collection under USA PATRIOT Act.

    Warren co-sponsored USA FREEDOM Act

    Congressional summary:: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act or the USA FREEDOM Act: