10 Questions With Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Mike Gravel


Richard Moore

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10 Questions With Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Mike Gravel

While Mike Gravel might not garner the press other Democratic presidential 
hopefuls do, there is something he does trump many of them on -- actual 

Gravel spent two terms (1969-81) in the U.S. Senate, representing Alaska, 
gaining a reputation as a strong opponent to the military draft and the Vietnam 
War. His months-long filibuster is credited with helping bring an end to the 

But, perhaps, his biggest claim to fame was his 1971 decision to release 4,100 
pages of the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret U.S. Department of Defense report 
detailing the nation's decades-long involvement in Vietnam. And while most 
Americans may not remember the exact details revealed 30+ years ago, many will 
see eerily familiar parallels to today's War in Iraq. Something not lost on the 
former Senator.

"We need a new direction. We need a President that will restore sanity and 
morality and integrity to the White House," Gravel told us. And its a position 
for which he feels some of his opponents need not apply. "Any Democrat who voted
to authorize the war the war in Iraq is morally unfit to hold the office of the 

In the first part of our email interview Gravel discusses, among other things, 
what we should do in Iraq, how to deal with Iran, and how the "Fair Tax" can 
eliminate the IRS.

1) After leaving the U.S. Senate over 25 years ago, what prompted you to climb 
back into the campaign saddle and make a run for the Presidency and, with most 
of the media coverage currently focusing on Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack 
Obama and John Edwards, what do you believe you offer to Americans that the 
early Democratic front-runners don't have?

On November 7th of last year, Americans went to the polls to send a clear 
message to the House of Representatives and Senate; stand up to George W. Bush 
and end the War in Iraq. We celebrated that victory in the hopes that after 
three disastrous years in Iraq our country was finally heading in the right 
direction. However, the Democrats have so far refused to respond to the will of 
the American people and call for a withdrawal of American troops, even as a 
January USA/Gallup poll has just 26% of Americans supporting Bush's handling the

The current Democratic leadership continues to lash out at George Bush for 
raising troop levels, while they avoid taking action. They have opted for a 
non-binding resolution that opposes the President's troop escalation by singling
out dissenting Republicans. While they have maintained their criticisms, they 
are refusing to take further action to block the move.

We need a new direction. We need a President that will restore sanity and 
morality and integrity to the White House. We need experienced leadership that 
will strengthen our communities at home while restoring our reputation and 
relations abroad. Any Democrat who voted to authorize the war in Iraq is morally
unfit to hold the office of the President.

2) As a U.S. Senator during the Vietnam War years you were famous for releasing 
the "Pentagon Papers" and your five-month filibuster that helped end the 
military draft. Do you think your experience in that era gives you added insight
into the current War in Iraq?

Yes. For twelve years I served in the United States Senate during another 
disastrous war. I know what it means to take on a Republican administration that
has lost its moral compass. Each day for five years I fought from the floor of 
the Senate to demand an end to a war that cost the lives of 60,000 US troops and
millions of Vietnamese men, women and children. I launched a one-man filibuster 
against the draft. I stood up to the Nixon administration all the way to the 
Supreme Court. This is the kind of political ambition that we lack today and 
that I seek to restore to government. We must use our full range of 
constitutional authority against those in government whose actions fail to 
uphold the constitution.

3) It seems everybody in Washington is looking for an "exit strategy" in Iraq, 
but the debate has mainly been framed in slogans such as "stay the course," "cut
and run" and nebulous "time lines". Is there a good strategy out there and, if 
so, what do you think it is?

The best exit strategy for Iraq is an immediate withdrawal. I do not accept the 
rationale that it was wrong to go, but right to stay. I refuse to support an 
illegal war and occupation that the Bush administration sold to the American 
people with lies and deception. Today, the Presidency stands for preemptive war 
and institutionalized torture. The office of the Presidency deserves better.

Some Democrats, even some running for President, are now admitting that they 
made a mistake when they voted to authorize the war in Iraq. But we knew then 
what we know now; that the President's rush to invade Iraq concealed the truth 
of the matter which is that the evidence was faulty. Neither Chief UN weapons 
inspector Hans Blix nor IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei could definitively say 
that Iraq had WMD. We now know, of course, that they did not.

4) Staying with foreign policy, while the U.S. and world have been focused on 
Iraq, perhaps even more dangerous and unstable governments in Iran and North 
Korea have been developing nuclear weapons. How would a Gravel administration 
deal with these two countries?

Diplomatically. First we must withdraw from Iraq and remove the provocation that
150,000 troops represent in the region. However, in order to institute a lasting
peace in the Middle East, the United States must take a more prominent role in 
resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This can only be done with the aid 
of the international community and the UN. The U.S. needs to encourage Abbas and
Hamas to peacefully establish a Palestinian government of national unity and 
strictly enforce security. We also need to insist that Israel honor its pledge 
to freeze settlement activity made under the 2003 'Road Map' peace plan.

North Korea was once a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, then 
withdrew in 2003 around the time George Bush invaded Iraq. I, unlike the current
administration, support bilateral talks with Prongyang. I reject the Bush 
doctrine that dialogue with these countries is a "reward" for good behavior. 
Let's reestablish communication and move forward peacefully, rather than relying
on military superiority and intimidation.

5) The Patriot Act passed with great fanfare in the days after 9/11, yet as time
has passed many people, from all sides of the political spectrum, have had 
reservations with some aspects of it. What is your position on the Patriot Act?

That it is illegal and unconstitutional to eliminate or weaken government checks
and balances. The federal government cannot just eradicate judicial process. 
Once again, the Democrats are guilty of complicity with the illegalities of the 
Bush administration. Russ Feingold is the only Democratic Senator to have 
originally voted against it.

6) Immigration once again became, or at least tried to be, an issue in 2006. The
debate seemed to fall into either "amnesty", "guest worker program" or 
"deportation" camps. Do you support any current plan or have one of your own?

It is in America's best interest to have secure borders. The best way to do 
achieve this is to stop the flow of immigrants attempting to cross the border 
ever day. We cannot begin to discuss Mexican immigration without discussing 
NAFTA and the concept of "free trade." NAFTA has been a disaster for the working
class of both the US and Mexico and has been a godsend for corporations. A study
by the Economic Policy Institute found that through 2004 over 1,000,000 US jobs 
were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 
1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a 
wave of immigrant workers looking for work in the US job market.

We must make major structural changes to NAFTA or repeal it all together and 
restore those jobs. Reforming unfair trade policies will stimulate job growth on
both sides of the border and allow Mexican workers to remain in their 
motherland. We must make fair trade a priority if we are to rebuild the American
middle class.

7) You have called for the abolishment of the IRS and the federal income tax 
and, instead, implement a national sales tax (called the "Fair Tax"). This 
proposal is unique in the fact that it has supporters and detractors from all 
parts of the political spectrum. Tell us a little about how it would work and 
what makes it a "fair" tax?

Here are 9 facts you may not know about the Fair Tax.

1-The Fair Tax taxes you on what you spend, not on what you earn.

2-The Fair tax allows you to save 100% of your paycheck.

3-H.R. 25 (S. 25) has 55 co-sponsors in the House.

4-It restores individual privacy. The government no longer needs to know where 
you work, what you are earning, and what you are doing with it.

5- It eliminates the income tax and the IRS.

6- Every American consumer and visiting tourist funds Social Security and 
Medicare with their purchases.

7- It makes educational tuition a tax-free expenditure of tax-free income.

8- It would save a quarter of a million trees a year that are needed to produce 
the paper for the IRS compliance and tax forms.

9 - It will create jobs since American companies will return from offshore and 


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