Questions for Candidates

By David Swanson

If, like General Electric and Fox News, ordinary citizens were permitted to ask questions of candidates for U.S. President, these are a few of the questions I think they might ask:

If you are elected president, which of the new presidential powers assumed by the Bush-Cheney administration will you use? Which will you leave available in case you decide to use them? Which will you issue orders banning the use of?

Will you ever spy on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the Fourth Amendment?

If you ever believe that the safety of Americans requires altering the law, will you work with Congress to try to change the law, or will you violate it?

Will you ever use signing statements to claim the power to ignore laws?

Really? Then why are you not supporting impeachment now?

If you are elected president, will you ever detain anyone without charge, hold anyone in a secret prison, render anyone to another nation to be tortured, or torture anyone in U.S. custody?

Do you promise?

Will you put it in writing?

Really? Then why are you not supporting impeachment now?

If you are elected president are there any areas in which you might ever choose to intentionally mislead the American people or Congress? Any areas at all, large or small?

What about war? Would you ever mislead our nation into war (those of you who did so five years ago need not answer)?

If you would not, why are you not supporting impeachment now?

Honestly or otherwise, will you ever launch an aggressive war? Will you ever threaten to do so?

Really? Then why do you say that, with regard to Iran, “all options are on the table”?

The following question is addressed specifically to Senator Hillary Clinton. Why did you say the following?

“In the four years since UN inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his biological and chemical weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members…

“It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons…

“Today, Mr. President, we are asked whether to give the President of the United States the authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program…

“This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. Any vote that might lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction.”

Do you realize that video clips of you saying these things will dominate our televisions for a year if you are nominated? How can you now claim that President Bush rushed us into war? How can you not support holding either him or Vice President Cheney accountable through impeachment? Is your own complicity in the war the reason you cannot support accountability for it? Have you asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to move on impeachment? Will you, at least, pledge not to launch another aggressive war against another nation?

The following question is addressed to former Senator John Edwards. Why did you say this?

“Mr. President, I am here to speak in support of the resolution before us, which I cosponsored. I believe we must vote for this resolution not because we want war, but because the national security of our country requires action….Saddam Hussein’s regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal. Iraq has continued to seek nuclear weapons and develop its arsenal in defiance of the collective will of the international community, as expressed through the United Nations Security Council.”

Why should we trust the power of the presidency to someone who would say such a thing? If you claim to have learned from your crime, why will you not oppose an aggressive attack on Iran?

The following questions are addressed to Senator Barack Obama. Why do you claim to have opposed this war even though you have voted consistently to fund it? Why do you not support Senator Feingold’s proposal to end it? Why will you not take nuking Iran off the table?

The following question is addressed to all candidates: Are you trying to end the war now, or would you prefer to have the war still going in November 2008?

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