John Cornyn on Homeland Security

Last Updated : Nov 08, 2010

Summary

Senator Cornyn has been a vocal supporter of using the detainment facility at Guananamo Bay and critical of measures to close the facility by President Obama. In 2003, he stated that the facility represented a strategic advantage. In 2009 Senator Cornyn responded to moves by President Obama to close the facility by stating that he would continue to support keeping the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open as long as America’s national security warrants it. Later that year, Senator Cornyn called President Obama's executive order to close the facility reckless and irresponsible, and noted that he and other Senators would move to defund any effort to transport the prisoners off the facility.

In addition to supporting the use of Gitmo, Senator Cornyn has been supportive of the use of the enemy combatant status for people captured during the war. He stated that the detention of enemy combatants is a fundamental and accepted incident to war and necessary to preserve our national security. He was opposed to attempts to grant habeas corpus rights to detainees and stated that the U.S. Supreme Court has firmly held that federal courts simply have no jurisdiction to consider habeas petitions filed by enemy aliens held outside the United States.

Senator Cornyn was also critical of the idea of holding civilian trials for terrorists. In 2004, he stated that President Bush’s proposal for military commissions meet the test of fairness – while necessarily preventing critical intelligence from getting into our enemies’ hands. He stated that it would be unthinkable to establish procedures that require either providing the terrorists access to classified information or dismissing the case against them. When President Obama pushed the idea of civilian trials, Senator Cornyn called the idea foolish.

Although not in Congress for the original vote on the PATRIOT Act, Senator Cornyn has remained a strong supporter of the legislation. In 2004, he stated that he has never been presented with evidence suggesting that the USA PATRIOT Act has resulted in any real civil liberties deprivations being suffered by real people. He was critical of Senators who attempted to filibuster that legislation, stating that law enforcement should never have to wonder if the critical tools they needed would be approved.

 

Guantonamo Bay

In August of 2003, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting a recent trip that he had taken to Guantanamo bay and his beliefs that the base represented a significant strategic advantage.

In January of 2009, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his belief that Guantanamo bay should remain open as long as American security required it.

In May of 2009, Senator Cornyn submitted an amendment to strip all funds designated towards transferring prisoners from Guantanamo bay. 

 

Enemy Combatant Status

In March of 2004, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting an amicus brief that he filed in favor of allowing Jose Padilla and other terrorists as enemy combatants.

In June of 2004, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting the court decision made in the case. He expressed disappointment with a portion of  the ruling that was on the pledge of allegiance, but was relieved that the court upheld the right to detain the men as enemy combatants.

 

War on Terror and Lawyers

In April of 2004, Senator Cornyn released a press statement declaring that the war on terror should be fought by soldiers and not by lawyers.

 

The 9/11 Commission Report

In July of 2004, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting the release of the 9/11 commission report. He cautioned against using the report for political purposes and stated that the President and the country have been busy addressing the problems the country has faced over the last 3 years.

 

Legality of the PATRIOT Act

In September of 2004, Senator Cornyn released a press statement discussing a recent court ruling that some were asserting declared the PATRIOT Act unconstitutional. He stated that the ruling actually affected the the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

 

Reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act

In February of 2006, Senator Cornyn released a press statement titled "The PATRIOT Act Lives" and noted his support for the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act.

 

Civilian Trials for Terrorists

In September of 2006, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his belief that terrorists such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed should not be given civilian trials.

In January of 2010, Senator Cornyn released another statement on the matter, calling it a "foolish idea" to bring terrorists to Washington D.C. to stand trial. In February of 2010, Senator Cornyn sponsored legislation to bar taxpayer funds to pay for civilian trials of terrorists.

 

 

National Security Surveillance Act

In September of 2006, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his disapproval of stalling techniques being used by the Democrats to attempt to prevent the National Security Surveillance Act.

 

FISA Not the Only Means of Gathering Intelligence

In September of 2006, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his belief that FISA was not the only means available to the President to gather intelligence.

 

Disapproval of Detainee Decision

In June of 2008, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his disapproval of a recent supreme court decision regarding detention of terrorists.

 

Renaming the War on Terror

In March of 2009, Senator Cornyn released a press statement discussing President Obama's decision to rename the war on terror.

 

Legal Interrogators

In May of 2009, Senator Cornyn spoke on the floor about an amendment he was putting forth that those who worked within the law and relied upon legal decision should not be prosecuted.

 

Great Lakes Gitmo

In August of 2009, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his concerns over possible plans to move the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to a facility around the Great Lakes.

 

Continuation of Key Provisions in the Patriot Act

In September of 2009, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his support for reauthorization for three key provisions within the PATRIOT Act that were about to expire and he felt should be reauthorized.

 

On Moving Gitmo Detainees to Continental US

In December of 2009, Senator Cornyn released a press statement noting his outrage at the possibility of moving the detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the continental US. He called the decision unjustifiable and unacceptable.

 

 

Official Website Statements

 

Voting Record

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Final Passage

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the conference report for the Defense appropriations act for 2012 - HR 1540. This final version of the legislation passed 86-13. John Cornyn voted in favor of the legislation.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the legislation.

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Senate Passage

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the Defense appropriations act for 2012 - S 1867. Part of that legislation was a provision to express the authorization of the military to arrest and indefinitely detain US citizens. The only requirement for this was that the person be suspected of allying with al-Qaida. The legislation passed 93-7. John Cornyn voted in favor of the legislation.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the legislation.

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Cloture

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the Defense appropriations act for 2012 - S 1867. Part of that legislation was a provision to express the authorization of the military to arrest and indefinitely detain US citizens. The only requirement for this was that the person be suspected of allying with al-Qaida. The cloture motion passed 88-12. John Cornyn voted against cloture to allow the bill to be considered.

John Cornyn voted against cloture to allow the bill to be considered.

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Udall Amendment to Repeal Provision

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the Defense appropriations bill. This legislation contained provisions to allow for the arrest and indefinite detention of US citizens if they were merely suspected of allying with al-Qaida. Senator Udall offered an amendment to remove this specific section. The attempt failed 38-60. John Cornyn voted against the Udall amendment to repeal the authorization for the arrest and indefinate detention of US citizens.

John Cornyn voted against the Udall amendment to repeal the authorization for the arrest and indefinate detention of US citizens.

FISA Amendment Acts of 2007

In February of 2008, the Senate voted on the FISA Amendment Acts of 2007. The legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support 68-29, but was never raised in the House. The legislation primarily contained provisions to allow for the monitoring of terrorists overseas that were a continuation of expired provisions in the Protect America Act. It also granted immunity to telecommunications companies against their customers for giving information to the government without a warrant. John Cornyn voted in favor of the FISA Amendment Acts of 2007.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the FISA Amendment Acts of 2007.

Restore Habeas Corpus

In September of 2009, the Senate voted on an amendment to restore habeas corpus rights to the prisoners a Guantanamo Bay. The measure received a majority of the votes, but not enough to pass. John Cornyn voted against the measure to restore habeas corpus rights to the prisoners.

John Cornyn voted against the measure to restore habeas corpus rights to the prisoners.

Protect America Act of 2007

The Protect America Act of 2007 dealt with certain aspects of electronic surveillance and the overall war on terror. In the vote to pass the legislation, most Republicans supported the bill and only about 1/3 of the Democrats supported the legislation. John Cornyn voted in favor of the Protect America Act of 2007.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the Protect America Act of 2007.

Military Commission Act of 2006

The Military Commissions Act passed in response to a supreme court ruling which stated that stated that military tribunals established by the Bush administrations did not align with the UCMJ. The Act defined unlawful enemy combatants and allowed for the military tribunals to be held. It passed the Senate 65-34. John Cornyn voted in favor of the Military Commission Act of 2006.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the Military Commission Act of 2006.

USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act

In March of 2006, congress reauthorized the USA PATRIOT Act. Despite the fact that the PATRIOT Act had become a controversial topic, only 4 Senators opposed the act in the actual vote. John Cornyn voted in favor of the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act.

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004

In October of 2004, congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The act was meant to reform national intelligence, and it created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The act passed the Senate with only 2 dissenting votes. John Cornyn voted in favor of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

John Cornyn voted in favor of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-111; Bill Number-S Res 403; A resolution relating to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Cosponsor

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should be tried by a military tribunal rather than by a civilian court.

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