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    Nominating Justices: A Political Tool?

    In early 2017, President Trump nominated conservative Neil Gorsuch for the empty seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia. The seat had been left empty for over 400 days, due to the GOP blocking Obama’s nomination for Judge Merrick Garland. Meanwhile, Obama had appointed two other judges to the Supreme Court—Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in 2009 and 2010, both in the Democratic party.

    Now, there are rumors flying that Justice Anthony Kennedy (a conservative, but crucial to swing votes) may part ways with his seat on the Supreme Court bench. If he were to retire, then President Trump will likely nominate another justice with conservative views and values.

    No doubt the Republican party can make progress in correcting fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution with appointments to the Supreme Court. But it is obvious on both sides of the aisle that nominating justices is just a political tool and that the needs of Americans are, once again, ignored.

    However, if you vote for me as president in 2020, I will not use my right to nominate justices as a political tool. It’s a sin of the past I have no intention of repeating. When the time comes, I’ll nominate whoever best suits the job—not whoever most agrees with me.

    Nominating SCOTUS justices for their politics is against my beliefs of bipartisanship and choosing the right person for the job. It would be just another example of the politicos in Washington getting caught up in partisan politics and ignoring the needs of Americans—an  example I am not interested in being a part of.

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    Terrorism in the 21st Century

    For years, the world has been on pins and needles, wondering what the radical Islamic cells believed to be all over the world will do next—and when. Ever since the massive influx of Syrian refugees into countries in Europe and the U.S. in the past couple of years, identifying “would-be” terrorists—let alone monitoring those they suspected—are overwhelming the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

    We’re fighting a new kind of war. It’s a frightening collection of decentralized, radicalized suicide bombers who spend their days on Facebook and Twitter, hell-bent on killing us all for the glory of Allah.

    What do our citizens do in a time like this? Do we remain vigilant, but carry on a normal life? Is anything short of that effectively a victory for the terrorists? Do we arm ourselves for protection?

    Americans have more than enough guns—too many, in fact. People everywhere are scared, and they turn to guns when fear controls them.

    I’m not concerned about America’s ability to fight fire with fire, even at the most local level. What I am concerned with is trigger-happy citizens striking out at others simply because they are Muslim—history has seen lesser transgressions to start bloody wars.

    So what do we do? The government must find better ways to share intelligence to American citizens (and other governments should do the same for their own people). We must substantially increase security patrols, and encourage more social media interaction and surveillance as that is where these terrorist cells interact.   We must learn from the tragedies that have occurred in Europe and find ways to share intelligence with security forces throughout the world.  We must end any leaks of sensitive information or we risk losing valuable informants and members of our intelligence community.  We must be realistic on immigration and tighten controls but in a way that does not shut our doors to legitimate immigrants.  Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past like our treatment of Japanese nationals in WWII.

    This is a war, even if it has not been officially declared.  And as in all wars, conventional wisdom and experience has its place in setting policy.  But this war has elements – local terrorist cells and lone wolves –  we’ve never faced before and to win, we have to consider new defenses that strike a balance between our country’s security and the rights we guarantee to all under our Constitution.  That balance has never been more tested than today.

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    Interrogation Methods: Should We Use Waterboarding Against Terrorists?

    “[T]he law — has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise — or even to give credence to such a suggestion — represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.”

    Letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, November 2, 2007 from Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 2000–02, Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 1997–2000, Major General John L. Fugh, United States Army (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Army, 1991–93, and Brigadier General David M. Brahms, United States Marine Corps (Ret.) Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant, 1985–88

    Waterboarding, mock executions, introducing hypothermia, and other forms of torture are forms of interrogation that are not within the federal guidelines for interrogating witnesses. But are these interrogation methods ones that the United States should consider using for terrorist detainees?

    As much as conventional politics may demand I consider these measures, I believe that they are barbaric and counterproductive in the same way that I cannot support the death penalty. It is also abundantly clear that those in the military who oversee proper policy on detained prisoners agree that waterboarding is illegal.

    That’s enough for me to conclude that, until someone gives me concrete evidence that such techniques like waterboarding work, I will not consider approving them. And even if such evidence were presented to me, I’m not at all certain I’d agree to allow them unless experts like the Generals and Admirals who wrote to Sen. Leahy in 2007 agree.