Ron Paul Q&A

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Charlie Savage
Globe Staff / December 20, 2007

1. Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

Absolutely not.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)


3. Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?

You know this might require a little bit of qualification. I have not voted to [restrict] the president on troop movements. So my thinking is if the president has some type of authority or he assumes it, I don’t want the solution to be by capping the number of troops or setting any type of troop movement. The solution there for me would be to remove the authority and defund it, not to micromanage troop movement.

At least the thing that I follow on some of these votes in the Congress, when the Democrats come up with restricting troop movements or saying you have to move so many out by so many months, unless the bill is complex that is a basic premise I try to follow. I do not like to vote for, and have voted against, micromanaging troop movements.

4. Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass sections of that the law?


5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?


6. Does executive privilege cover testimony or documents about decision-making within the executive branch not involving confidential advice communicated directly to the president himself?

No I want to make sure I understand it. Personal papers would be exempt. I would argue for and make sure an administration would be very, very open.

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?


8. Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the Senate has ratified?

Well, he never has the right to violate any human rights, but because he should obey the constitution, not because of the international treaty. But so I would get to that point but not because of the treaty but because of the Constitution.

Well, but the Constitution only has force on US soil, right, so the question is what happens when he is operating overseas? Do these other instruments bind him if the Senate has ratified them?

If he's overseas and the treaty is in effect and would protect human rights -- see I keep thinking well we shouldn't be over there. So if we're there -- and I can't see myself being over there - well, okay, the answer would be that he would have to obey the treaty.

9. Do you agree or disagree with the statement made by former Attorney General Gonzales in January 2007 that nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus, separate from any statutory habeas rights Congress might grant or take away?

I strongly disagree with him because I think it was absurd. If we can’t deny habeas corpus it infers that you have habeas corpus. So I would strongly disagree with his whole interpretation of habeas corpus.

Do you think that that extends to non US citizens in US custody overseas, i.e. Guantanamo?

I think that might depend upon the circumstances of declared war, and what the circumstances might be.

The context would be Gitmo, the case before the Supreme Court.

I would think then that we should, under those circumstances, follow the principles of habeas corpus.

10. Is there any executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that you think is unconstitutional? Anything you think is simply a bad idea?

They’re all bad ideas. But it's unconstitutional - the big one is going to war without a declaration. I think the wiretaps and the surveillance -- although later on the Congress has sort of complied with what the president was doing, he started it and did it before congress said anything. I think the declaration of individuals being an enemy combatant, including American citizens. These things were unconstitutional. The executive orders to seize property if somebody was found to be undermining our foreign policy - and he had two of those , one with Lebanon and one with Iraq - I consider that all unconstitutional.

11. Who are your campaign's advisers for legal issues?

I don’t have specific advisers, whether it's economic or foreign policy, we don’t assign advisers, nor have we hired anybody. But I've had individuals I've looked up to and I've read what they've written and I've visited with them, as a matter of fact they've even come to my office to talk with other members of the Congress that I like to bring together for lunch. That is Bruce Fein, Andrew Napolitano, and Jonathan Turley.

These are people I’ve known. But I've talked to them and had them to my office a long before this campaign even started.

12. Do you think it is important for all would-be presidents to answer questions like these before voters decide which one to entrust with the powers of the presidency? What would you say about any rival candidate who refuses to answer such questions?

Obviously I think we should, and I think that what we should say, which should be in the form of a question -- what are they trying to hide? Why are they embarrassed to answer the questions?

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