John McCain: Is the American govenment too secretive?

John Sidney McCain III  is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election.  McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.

He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981, moved to Arizona, and entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily in 1992, 1998, and 2004. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a "maverick" for having disagreed with his party. After being investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as a member of the Keating Five, he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, and for his belief that the war in Iraq should be fought to a successful conclusion. McCain has chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, has opposed spending that he considered to be pork barrel, and played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.

McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, but lost a heated primary contest to George W. Bush. He secured the nomination in 2008 after coming back from early reversals, but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election.

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TRANSCRIPT

John McCain: I think that 9/11 probably, for a few good reasons, made the government more secretive so that we wouldn’t betray some of our sources and methods to the enemy. But I do believe that on the signing statement issue where the president has basically made a statement when he signs a bill into law saying that he either will not obey it, or will not implement it, or will only partially implement it, it’s a terrible turn of events. I think it’s a fundamental assault on the balance of powers. I will never as President of the United States issue a signing statement that has anything to do other than how I will implement the law to its fullest degree. On the other aspect of the issue about sources, and methods, and phone records and all that kind of stuff, that’s another manifestation of the gridlock we hear . . . we have here. Why shouldn’t the relevant committees, the intelligence committees and the Executive branch sit down and work out the best way to track down people who want to destroy America, and at the same time preserve individual liberties? And all of that is complicated by the dramatic changes in telecommunications capabilities as we see almost on a daily basis. But we should be able to adjust to that, and in a balanced and bipartisan fashion. Unfortunately we’re not. I’d call over the intelligence committee members, and I’d sit down with them and I’d say, “What’s your problem?” I would try to point out to them what our national security interests are. And I also would tell them that I respect their role. There is a role for Congress in the formulation of these policies, and I will respect it. And I will appeal to their angels . . . better angels of their nature because this is an issue of national security. It should not spill over into national partisanship. Recorded on: 11/20/07

 

 


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