Scott Horton Interviews Senator Mike Gravel
On my radio show May 7th, I spoke with former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who made a big splash April 26th at the first debate among Democrats seeking the nomination for president when he said that the “top tier” candidates all “frighten” him with their “all options must remain on the table for dealing with Iran” rhetoric and with his proposal to make it a felony for the president to continue the occupation of Iraq.
“Some of these people [the other candidates] frighten me. When you have mainline candidates that turn around and say “there’s nothing off the table with respect to Iran. That’s code for using nukes, nuclear devices. I’ve got to tell you, if I’m President of the United States, there will be no preemptive wars with nuclear devices. In my mind, it’s immoral, and it’s been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy. …
“How do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there.”
I gave him an hour to elaborate on these ideas and others, including how the Iraq war has strengthened Iran’s position in the Middle East, their nuclear program, his proposal for opening friendly relations rather than threatening them, the neoconservatives’ doctrine of global hegemony, his plan for direct democracy and the U.S. military’s war against their veterans.
You can listen by clicking here. (58:54)
Senator Gravel enlisted in the U.S. Army (1951-54) and served as special adjutant in the Communication Intelligence Services and as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. He received a B.S. in Economics from Columbia University, New York City, and holds four honorary degrees in law and public affairs.
Mike Gravel served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1963-66, and as Speaker from 1965-66. He then represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969-81. He served on the Finance, Interior, and Environmental and Public Works committees, chairing the Energy, Water Resources, Buildings and Grounds, and Environmental Pollution subcommittees.
In 1971, he waged a successful one-man filibuster for five months that forced the Nixon administration to cut a deal, effectively ending the draft in the United States. He is most prominently known for his release of the Pentagon Papers, the secret official study that revealed the lies and manipulations of successive U.S. administrations that misled the country into the Vietnam War. After the New York Times published portions of the leaked study, the Nixon administration moved to block any further publication of information and to punish any newspaper publisher who revealed the contents.
From the floor of the senate, Gravel (a junior senator at the time) insisted that his constituents had a right to know the truth behind the war and proceeded to read 4,100 pages of the 7,000 page document into the senate record. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Senator Gravel did not have the right and responsibility to share official documents with his constituents.
He then published The Senator Gravel Edition, The Pentagon Papers, Beacon Press (1971). This publication resulted in litigation, Gravel v. U.S., resulting in a landmark Supreme Court decision (No. 71-1017-1026) relative to the Speech and Debate Clause (Article 1, Section 6) of the United States Constitution.
He has worked as a cab driver in New York City, a clerk on Wall Street and as a brakeman on the Alaska Railroad. He founded and served as president of The Democracy Foundation, Philadelphia II, and Direct Democracy, nonprofit corporations dedicated to the establishment of direct democracy in the United States through the enactment of the National Initiative for Democracy by American voters.
Other books authored by Senator Gravel are Jobs and More Jobs, and Citizen Power. He lectures and writes about governance, foreign affairs, economics, Social Security, tax reform, energy, environmental issues and democracy.