The Huffington Post
June 9, 2009
Kathleen Wells: As a member of the U. S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, what is your take on this issue of torture?
Congressman Ron Paul: Well, it’s against the law – both our law and international law. So, we shouldn’t do it. And I’m against it for personal, moral reasons. I think it’s horrible. And for practical reasons, I think it’s absolutely worthless. And if we are serious about getting information, if we use other techniques, we actually get more information.
Kathleen Wells: So, you do believe that we were committing torture in our interrogations in Guantanamo?
Congressman Ron Paul: I don’t think the pictures I’ve seen were fictitious – the ones that were released a year or two ago. And, obviously, there are some more pictures of torture that they draw more attention to because they refuse to release them, which means that it must be a true indictment of what they were doing.
Kathleen Wells: What are your thoughts on President Obama’s decision to release the torture memos?
Congressman Ron Paul: I think he is purely political. I think he has backed down on what he said. He was elected for change and it is the same old stuff and he is as much of a neo-con now as Bush was with this issue and other issues. The war has been expanded. He continues with not closing down Guantanamo. There is probably, for as most [sic] as we can tell, there is still secret rendition going on. We just moved some of this process overseas. We are not going to be aware of it in detail.
Kathleen Wells: You feel President Obama is a neo-con like Bush? You don’t see a distinction between the two administrations?
Congressman Ron Paul: The tone is different, but the policies don’t change. We are spreading the war. The war is expanding. We are not prosecuting those that committed torture. Guantanamo is not going to be closed down. So, no, I don’t see [a distinction between Bush and Obama].
He [Obama] increased the DOD [Department of Defense] budget. We surely could spend some of that money at home where people are really hurting. But we increased the DOD budget, I think, by 10-percent. I can’t see any significant change in foreign policy. The pretense in leaving Iraq was a mild pretense and I’m predicting that’s not going to happen. There are going to be troops in Iraq throughout this administration, I’m convinced.
Kathleen Wells: Why are you convinced?
Congressman Ron Paul: Because I don’t think anyone wants to face the difficulties that might ensue. The problems came from us being there and when we leave, the problems will probably accelerate a bit. And then they will blame leaving for [causing] the problems and, yet, the real problem was going in. So, I think the international pressure that we get from various allies will be so great that we won’t leave. And just don’t expect the policies to change.
It just goes along with what I have said for years. Foreign policy does not change with Republicans or Democrats. Overall, there is very little policy that changes. There is a lot of debate and a lot of rhetoric, but things continue as they do.
When Clinton was in, the Republicans condemned his Somalia problem. Bush said he wasn’t going to be a nation builder and a policeman of the world and he gets in and he is worse. Obama says Bush is terrible and gets in and all of a sudden, guess who is cheering Obama on right now? People like [Senator] Lindsay Graham. The real hawks of the Republican Party are sorta enjoying this right now. They figure they are winning these fights.
Kathleen Wells: Can you give me your thoughts on former Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent speech on interrogation techniques and national security?
Congressman Ron Paul: I [didn't] expect anything brand new. He … just [tried] to defend what he had been doing and his involvement over the years. He’ll keep saying that he saved many lives by torturing – which I don’t believe for a minute.
I’m more likely to believe Matthew Alexander and his position on torture. Matthew Alexander was an official that was involved. He was in the Air Force, but he was over there and he carried out over 300 interrogations over there and was very, very successful. But [he] refused orders to ever participate in anything violent or anything that hinted of torture. That is the evidence – you can get more information, rather than less [without using torture].
I think the evidence is now coming out of people saying that the torture wasn’t intended to get information. They got a lot of information from these individuals – these few, these three that are well known now. They got a lot of information from them before they were tortured. They were trying to get them to say that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in order to justify this illegal war.
Kathleen Wells: Elaborate on why you believe there is no difference between the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration?
Congressmen Ron Paul: In style, they are different. The tone is different and I think there is a benefit to that. But his policies don’t change. Ultimately, policies win out. The strong statements against Iran are still there. And, right now, going through our committee (the Congressional International Relations Committee/the Foreign Affairs Committee), stronger sanctions will be put on Iran – just looking for another fight. And we have taken the position we will not allow them to proceed on any nuclear testing, even if it is within the law and even if it is done peacefully. We are not going to permit that. So no, that position hasn’t changed.
Like I said before, the war is not winding down in Iraq. The violence is increasing. And war is expanding into Afghanistan, sending more troops there. And now we are taking on Pakistan. And, actually, the whole Pakistan thing is just a reflection of a very, very flawed foreign policy of ours. Because we chase the Taliban around and some go into Pakistan and we urge the public government there to do this and that, we are just working very hard to have another war in Pakistan.
Kathleen Wells: What would you be doing differently if you were President? I know you were a Presidential primary candidate.
Congressman Ron Paul: I would bring the troops home. I’d just bring them all home. I’d bring them home from Korea. I’d bring them home from Germany. Save hundreds of billions of dollars and that would be a real boost. In order to stimulate the economy, I would immediately suspend the income tax for everybody.
The money we get into the hands of the people – that would cost less money than these hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts that go into the pockets of the privileged who then get to take their retirement benefits and all their bonuses. I would do it a lot differently.
Foreign policy, though, would be the big thing. Just move away from that. Take off the sanctions and start trading with Cuba. Not just talk about it, but go ahead and do it.
Kathleen Wells: And Iran?
Congressman Ron Paul: I would treat them like we treated the Soviets. We talked to them. The Soviets had 30,000 nuclear weapons. Iran is not going to bomb anybody. They deserve a little bit of protection for themselves. They have nuclear weapons to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west and all they do is get beat up. There are a bunch of bad people over there, but there are a bunch of bad people all over the world.
Khrushchev wasn’t exactly the nicest guy in the world and he claimed he was going to bury us, too. Even guys like Ronald Reagan talked to him and we worked things out. Their economic system collapsed.
What we ought to do is pay more attention to the goals of Osama Bin Laden. He said, “We will bring you to your knees through your bankruptcy because we are going to drag you over here and we will drain you and we will eventually bring on an economic crisis in your country.” Right now he is winning. Right now the Iraqis are closely aligned with the Iranians. The Shiites are winning. The Sunnis are on the run. We’ve weaponized the whole area. More guns sent over there by the American taxpayer. The Sunnis are all armed. It’s just a very, very ridiculous foreign policy.